Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
Waikiki Beach Marriott
I wish to thank the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) for holding tonight's town meeting that has brought together many from Hawaii's general aviation (GA) community. The timing could not have been better as 2006 promises to be a critical year for AOPA's membership. As many of you are aware, aviation funding is a primary concern, and we must continue to work together to ensure that federal entitlement money is available to our nation's smallest airports. This funding is particularly critical to GA airports across the country and I am pleased we were able to win this fight last year to properly support the infrastructure needs of these facilities.
In 2006, the Congress will begin to consider the future funding of the entire aviation system as we develop the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization legislation. This is a significant year, as the taxes and fees that have funded the FAA for the past decade will expire, and some have been looking at this as an opportunity to fundamentally restructure the financing of the system. The Bush Administration has been aggressively seeking support for user fees, and the real work on this issue will occur in the coming months. I will be working to make certain that any bill that comes before the Congress is fair and equitable to all parties, and I am determined to see that the affordability of GA is not damaged by this process.
Security issues will also remain front and center in 2006, and I have been supportive of AOPA's proactive efforts on GA security in recent years. There have been successes, such as the reopening of Reagan National Airport to some GA traffic, but I know you would like to see more on Temporary Flight Restrictions and I will do my part to consider those concerns. I would also like to see technology used where possible to tighten the security of the entire aviation system, and I will continue to work with key GA organizations, like AOPA, to determine what action may be appropriate.
AOPA has worked hard to educate Members of Congress on its key priorities, and I look forward to doing my part to assist in these efforts as the second session of the 109th Congress begins.
DANIEL K. INOUYE
United States Senator
January 13, 2006