June 11, 2014
By Elizabeth A Tennyson
The House of Representatives on June 10 voted to give the FAA $15.7 billion for the 2015 fiscal year. The measure includes several GA-friendly provisions and represents a small increase over the agency’s $15.6 billion 2014 budget.
The House bill would prohibit the imposition of new aviation user fees and would prohibit the FAA from charging fees for digital navigation charts.
Another provision directs the FAA to use funds to support the Small Airplane Revitalization Act, which focuses on streamlining certification of small aircraft. AOPA has been actively working with the FAA and other general aviation organizations to make it easier and less expensive to bring new safety technologies into both new and older aircraft. Part 23 reform, required under the Small Airplane Revitalization Act, would facilitate that process.
The House bill includes modest funding increases for other programs important to GA as well. Under the bill, the FAA would have $252.2 million for implementing ADS-B, up from the $247.2 million the FAA requested. ADS-B implementation is a key component of NextGen modernization.
The FAA also would have $6 million for continuing research and testing of alternatives to leaded avgas, up from $5.7 million requested by the president. And the agency would have $103.6 million to continue developing the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS). WAAS provides increased GPS accuracy, making precision approaches possible at airports without requiring expensive and hard-to-maintain ground-based equipment.
The House bill also would give the FAA $140 million for the contract tower program, including $9.4 million for a cost-sharing program. Contract towers are common at smaller and mid-sized airports and have been proven a cost-effective way to manage air traffic.
“This bill includes several GA related provisions and we appreciate the House moving on this important piece of legislation,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. We are pleased to see that the bill does not include the President’s user fee proposal and that it does include funding to support the Part 23 revisions process, which will streamline the cumbersome and costly certification process and improve safety. We are looking for the House and Senate to come together and send a pro-GA bill to the President.”
Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its own version of the spending bill, which would give the FAA $15.86 billion for the 2015 fiscal year. That version is awaiting approval from the full Senate.
Once that happens, a conference committee made up of members of Congress from both chambers will reconcile the differences in the House-passed and Senate-passed bills before sending a final version to the President for his signature.
Director of Government Affairs and Executive Communications Elizabeth Tennyson joined AOPA in 1998, the same year she earned her private pilot certificate. She also holds an instrument rating and enjoys jumping out of planes almost as much as flying them.
AOPA expressed concern in a meeting with town officials from East Hampton, New York, that restrictions proposed to curb airport noise “overwhelmingly” generated by transient commercial flights would unfairly burden traditional airport users.
The FAA on Feb. 23 issued a special airworthiness information bulletin recommending preflight inspection of Robinson R44 and R44 II main rotors.
Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) talks about the Pilots Bill of Rights II, which includes a provision to allow private pilots to fly an aircraft with up to six seats, weighing up to 6,000 pounds, VFR or IFR, without a third class medical certificate. The bill also reforms the NOTAM system, and provides more legal protections for pilots accused of regulatory infractions.
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