Congress gave final approval October 6 to the Transportation appropriations bill that provides $12 billion to FAA for fiscal year 2001. That figure marks a 20-percent increase over the FAA's current budget.
"This bill is a milestone because it fully funds modernization efforts and airport improvements, and it does so at the increased levels required by the AIR-21 legislation passed earlier this year," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "Congress has proven its commitment to fully funding improvements to the nation's airport and airway system."
"And AOPA members should be proud. Their phone calls and letters to Congress are what helped push AIR-21 through, and that led to this historic appropriations bill."
The bill includes full funding for FSS modernization, accelerated funding for research to find a replacement for leaded aviation gasoline, and additional funding for the GPS satellite navigation system. AOPA had specifically asked Congress to fund all of these items critical to general aviation.
As mandated by AIR-21, Congress increased the FAA's Airport Improvement Program budget a whopping 69 percent to $3.2 billion. The Facilities and Equipment (F&E) budget increased 28 percent to $2.656 billion for modernizing air traffic control and FSS equipment. The $187 million allotted for Research Engineering and Development (RE&D) represents a 20-percent increase over the current budget.
The FAA's Operations budget was increased almost 11 percent to $6.54 billion, with most of that going to air traffic control.
"This appropriations bill fulfills the commitment made by AIR-21 that all of the aviation taxes collected will be used for aviation purposes," said Boyer. "The administration can no longer claim it needs to charge user fees in order to raise enough money for the FAA. It's evident that the present budget system works.
"Now let's finish the job of reform by making sure the FAA management works as well as AIR-21," Boyer concluded.
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, based outside Washington, D.C., represents more than 360,000 pilots who own or fly three quarters of the nation's 206,000 general aviation aircraft. General aviation aircraft comprise 96 percent of the total U.S. civilian air fleet.
October 6, 2000