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Invest in aviation infrastructure, groups tell CongressInvest in aviation infrastructure, groups tell Congress

Investing in aviation infrastructureIf Congress were to include the aviation sector in its economic stimulus packages, more than 40,000 high-paying jobs would be created, aviation safety would be improved, and there would be positive effects for the environment, according to a coalition of aviation organizations.

The group of 12, including AOPA, told Senate and House leaders that the industry’s proposals would, “not only achieve short term economic stimulus goals, but would also lead to long-term efficiencies and economic growth.” The proposals also would improve environmental stewardship. “Very few government investments have the potential to positively influence two policy objectives at the same time. This is an investment we cannot afford to postpone,” the aviation industry said in a Dec. 10 letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio).

“Investing in the aviation infrastructure will put people to work, help local communities across the country, and encourage additional economic investment,” said AOPA President-elect Craig Fuller. “The group proposals incorporate many of the ideas that AOPA discussed last week in a private meeting with President-elect Barack Obama’s transportation planning transition team.”

Included in the industry proposals were more funds for airport construction and incentives to aircraft owners and airlines to install equipment to take full advantage of the NextGen air traffic control system. The group proposed some $3 billion be spent on NextGen infrastructure, which would reduce airline delays, improve aviation safety, and reduce emissions. Included in the proposal is some $2.5 billion to support aircraft equipage, including ADS-B (automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast) transceivers. That would “accelerate many of the economic and environmental benefits.”

“Approximately 20,000 aircraft could be equipped with this investment, generating high-paying green jobs in the high-tech fields of civil aviation manufacturing, flight operations, maintenance, and environment,” the letter noted.

The aviation organizations proposed that the current Airport Improvement Program receive an additional $1 billion in funding. There are more than 5,000 public-use airports in the United States, but only about 500 have commercial service. General aviation airports are the transportation life-links for the majority of America’s communities.

“There are improvement projects that would increase the utility and safety of these vital airports that could go to contract within 30 days if the money were available,” said Fuller. The aviation groups predicated that this proposed infrastructure funding could create some 35,000 jobs.

Also proposed were changes in the tax code to make airport bonds more attractive to investors, providing more money for construction. The group also wants other changes that would help keep aircraft manufacturing production lines moving and encourage new research and development in the aviation industry.

While the aviation industry is feeling the current economic pain like everyone else, “all forecasts point to robust growth in the civil aviation sector in the coming years,” the group said.

“Investment in our aviation infrastructure will pay dividends for generations,” said Fuller.

The aviation industry directly or indirectly generates more than 10 million jobs and $1.2 trillion in annual economic activity, representing some 5.6 percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product.

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