The Bush administration has rescinded proposed cuts in the FAA's budget, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association has confirmed.
Over the weekend, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) agreed to restore the FAA's budget request to the level mandated by Congress, according to a Wall Street Journal report. AOPA confirmed through its own sources that OMB has now agreed to honor the Aviation Investment and Reform Act (AIR-21), passed last year to unlock the aviation trust fund.
The decision came 11 days after AOPA first reported that OMB was proposing to renege on the AIR-21 funding levels.
On February 2, AOPA President Phil Boyer wrote President Bush urging him to honor the agreement. Boyer's letter touched off furious industry lobbying on behalf of the FAA. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta also personally lobbied OMB in support of the AIR-21 funding levels.
"As a nation, we must place a high priority on solving the congestion and delay problems plaguing the air transportation system," said Boyer. "Congress rightly recognized through AIR-21 that the first step is to provide adequate resources to modernize the air traffic control system and increase airport capacity.
"We know President Bush shares this vision, and we're pleased his administration has signaled its willingness to work with Congress and the aviation industry to move our system into the twenty-first century."
Perhaps fittingly, news of the restoration of the FAA's budget came as Boyer was about to present AOPA's 2000 Hartranft Award to Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott for his leadership in securing passage of AIR-21.
The landmark legislation unlocked the aviation trust fund, directing that all money collected from aviation taxes on aircraft fuel, airline passenger tickets, and air cargo be used for capital improvements to airports and the air traffic control system. AIR-21 authorized some $40 billion for the FAA over the next three years, which includes a 64-percent increase in airport funding and 35-percent increase in funds for air traffic control modernization.
The 365,000-member Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is the world's largest civil aviation organization. More than one half of the nation's pilots and three quarters of the aircraft owners are AOPA members.