Aviation leaders in Congress are hoping to make the renewal of the FAA reauthorization bill something “big, bold, and transformational,” Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) said at the opening session of the National Business Aviation Association convention in Orlando Oct. 21. He is chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
He appeared before NBAA convention attendees to ask for their help in educating Congress about the role aviation plays in the United States so that legislation can be passed to maintain world leadership. He gave hints at the direction a reauthorization bill might take, citing the need to streamline manufacturing regulation, keep administration of regulations uniform throughout the country, remove tax burdens, and eliminate proposed taxes on carbon dioxide emissions—a proposal of the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Get the government out of the way so we can stay in the forefront for years to come,” Shuster said. “We need to think bigger than a simple FAA reauthorization. I believe it needs to be a transformational bill.
He said legislators need to make sure they are “streamlining the process for manufacturers so they have some consistency out there.” He explained, “I hear that all the time when I talk to folks in your industry. One part of the country does things different than another part of the country.”
He said U.S. manufacturers have regulatory burdens “our competitors don’t face. Our competitors out there are able to move faster.”
“There’s a tax burden out there,” he said. “You look at Europe. They’ve doubled the taxes on their aviation. We just can’t go down that road if we expect aviation, especially general aviation, to continue to grow and prosper in this country.
“The EPA has announced they are looking at the possibility of taxing aircraft for CO2 emissions. Manufacturers and airlines are already working on reducing their carbon footprint. We shouldn’t be penalizing them. We should be rewarding them when they’re able to do that.”
He also said surveys show there are doubts about the FAA’s ability to complete the NextGen modernization of the air traffic control system.
America needs to learn from other countries, Shuster said. After citing examples of air traffic control systems in several countries, he focused on Canada. He said the FAA handles eight times more traffic than Nav Canada, but spends 20 times more on capital improvement programs. “If you go to Canada and see what they have developed up there, it is a much more modern system. It’s as safe and Canadians will argue it’s safer than the United States—[and] we have an extremely safe system,” Shuster said.
“We need to concentrate on the common ground, and I believe there [are] wide swaths of common ground out there, and avoid battling one another on narrow issues,” he said.