The House of Representatives on Sept. 20 passed an FAA funding bill that makes sense for general aviation without giving the airlines tax cuts. The vote was 267 to 151.
The bill — H.R. 2881, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2007 — would fund the FAA through 2011, provide additional money for air traffic control modernization (NextGen), and increase the funds for airport improvements, particularly small general aviation airports.
"H.R.2881 is a great model for funding our future aviation system," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "And the best news for general aviation — no user fees, a modest fuel tax increase for NextGen, and no tax cuts for the airlines."
H.R.2881 is an "historic bill addressing the needs of aviation today and into the future," said Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.), chairman of the Transportation Committee. "These are all-time high investments."
Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Ill.), aviation subcommittee chairman, said the bill would "increase capacity and safety and modernize the air traffic control system," and that the NextGen system can be "absorbed within the existing FAA financing structure, and that's exactly what we did. Our bill does not impose user fees as the administration recommended."
"We said from the beginning, take user fees off the table and we'll discuss whether there should be an adjustment in what GA pays," said Boyer. "We thank the leadership of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and the Ways and Means Committee, and the members of the House of Representatives for doing the right thing for aviation."
H.R.2881 would provide nearly $68 billion to the FAA over the next four years. Some $13 billion would be available to maintain and improve FAA facilities and equipment, including $5 billion for the start of the NextGen air traffic control modernization program.
Another $15.8 billion would be put into the Airport Improvement Program, and more than $37 billion for FAA salaries and other operational expenses.
"The House has demonstrated that the administration and the airlines were wrong," said Boyer. "The system was never broken. We can continue to maintain and improve the world's safest aviation system within the time-proven aviation tax system.
The U.S. Senate is working on its own version of an FAA funding bill (S.1300). Once that bill is finalized and approved by the full Senate, a conference committee will resolve the differences between H.R.2881 and S.1300.
AOPA and its more than 413,000 members are committed to finding a common-sense solution that will pay to modernize America's air traffic control system — the safest and most efficient in the world — while preserving the world's most vibrant general aviation community.
September 20, 2007