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FAA administrator calls for "new funding structure"FAA administrator calls for "new funding structure"

FAA administrator calls for "new funding structure"

FAA Administrator Marion Blakey
FAA Administrator Blakey speaks
to the Aero Club of Washington.

FAA Administrator Marion Blakey continues beating the drum for a change in the FAA's funding structure. During a speech to the Aero Club of Washington, D.C., on Monday, Blakey again said that the agency is about to run out of money.

"A change in our funding system is not only necessary, it is warranted," Blakey said. "Our ability to pay the operations bills is literally tied to the price of a ticket. Low-cost carriers driving the market, more and smaller aircraft up there, you do the math. The equation doesn't work."

However, others have done the math, including the White House's Office of Management and Budget. "Rather than the FAA's predictions of an aviation trust fund collapse, the OMB predicts continued trust fund growth," said AOPA President Phil Boyer.

The FAA's authority to collect aviation ticket and fuel taxes will expire in 2007. And despite the OMB's projections, FAA and Department of Transportation officials want to change the system when the law expires.

"What we need is a constant, stable revenue stream, one that's tied to the actual cost of the services we provide," Blakey told the Aero Club. "What a difference that could make for the FAA, what a difference that could make for the future of aviation."

While the administrator has always been careful to never say "user fees," "It's difficult to imagine any other system where the 'revenue stream' is tied to the actual cost of the services provided," said Boyer. "If you charge a fee for the service your revenue can be tied to providing that service."

Secretary of Transportation Norm Mineta did say at AOPA Expo earlier this month that, from his perspective, user fees would not be the solution for general aviation. But Mineta also acknowledged that the battle against GA user fees is far from won and that AOPA should stay vigilant.

November 30, 2005

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