Feb. 4, 2015
Contact: Steve Hedges
AOPA applauds GA-friendly decision
FREDERICK, MD – For the first time in years, President Obama’s new budget proposal does not include any new user fees for general aviation (GA)—a decision applauded by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA).
“After years of fighting to protect pilots from arbitrary fees and charges, we’re pleased to see that the White House has finally taken our message to heart and acknowledged that user fees on general aviation are a non-starter,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “This is a big victory for the future of general aviation but we’ll continue to keep a close watch to make sure this bad idea doesn’t re-emerge as it has in the past.”
The past three budgets from the Obama Administration proposed a $100 per flight user fee for GA, but that idea has met with strong opposition from AOPA and others, including general aviation supporters in Congress who have repeatedly written to the White House insisting they would not support such a fee.
The President’s 2016 budget proposal, which was released on Feb. 2, includes a $15.8 billion request to fund the FAA and its activities, including the search for an avgas replacement, air traffic management, operations, airport infrastructure and NextGen modernization. In making the request, the White House notes that the funds would be an investment in the future of aviation, an industry that accounts for more than 5 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.
As part of that $15.8 billion funding request, the President’s budget proposal seeks $2.86 billion for facilities and equipment, including $845 million for NextGen-related capital investments—a $53 million increase over enacted 2015 spending levels. The proposal calls for funds to be set aside for NextGen including $13 million to expand performance-based navigation within metroplex areas, $45 million for the continued implementation for ADS-B and $139 million that would pay for needed satellite subscription services.
For research, engineering and development activities the President’s budget proposes funding of $166 million. Included in that portion of the budget is $6 million to continue efforts to continue the research needed to transition from avgas to an unleaded replacement fuel.
The budget proposal does call for a funding reduction in one critical area—airport improvement program (AIP) grants. The President’s 2016 budget proposal would set a $2.9 billion obligation limitation for the program, a decrease of $450 million from the 2015 spending level. But the money would be focused on smaller commercial and general aviation airports that don’t have access to other revenue sources. At the same time, the budget proposal would nearly double the passenger facility charge at all commercial service airports from $4.50 to $8. It would also eliminate guaranteed AIP entitlements at large hub airports, giving them more flexibility to generate alternative funding streams.
“Overall, this budget proposal represents good news for programs that are critical to general aviation, especially in terms of the removal of user fees” said Jim Coon, AOPA senior vice president of government affairs. “But, it is important to remember that this proposal is just the beginning of the budgeting process. Congress will now review and either accept or dispose of these requests. AOPA will continue to be heavily engaged in working with lawmakers to ensure that the final FAA budget for 2016 and the longer-term FAA reauthorization process account for the needs of general aviation now and for years to come.”
Since 1939, AOPA has protected the freedom to fly for thousands of pilots, aircraft owners and aviation enthusiasts. AOPA is the world’s largest aviation member association, with representatives based in Frederick, Md., Washington, D.C., Wichita, Kans., and seven regions across the United States. AOPA provides member services that range from advocacy at the federal, state, and local levels to legal services, flight planning products, safety programs and award-winning media. To learn more, visit www.aopa.org.
- AOPA -