AOPA President Mark Baker met with the head of the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee June 17 to discuss FAA reauthorization and the critical issues affecting general aviation.
During the meeting with Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), Baker reiterated AOPA’s position that user fees on GA are not acceptable and that the current system of fuel taxes is an efficient and fair way to fund the FAA. Shuster chairs the House T&I Committee, which is tasked with drafting FAA reauthorization legislation to set long-term spending priorities for the agency. The current FAA funding package expires Sept. 30.
“The fuel tax system we already have in place is effective and cost-efficient. It works and we believe it’s the right way to fund aviation going forward,” said Baker. “We know from the experience of other nations that user fees can stifle general aviation, restrict access to airports and airspace, and prevent pilots from using the safety services they need, and that’s why AOPA won’t support user fees in any form.”
Reauthorization legislation typically addresses a broad range of issues affecting the FAA. The upcoming legislation could address not only the dollar amount and mechanism for funding the aviation system but also medical and certification reforms, and even the FAA’s organizational structure. Shuster outlined in recent remarks that he intends to introduce legislation to remove the air traffic organization from the FAA and establish a not-for-profit corporation to modernize the system.
“We haven’t seen the legislation and can’t say with certainty what it might contain,” said Baker. “I think almost everyone agrees the FAA is need of an overhaul in many areas, but it’s vital that any changes protect the interests of all system users, including GA, while ensuring the highest levels of safety. We’ll weigh in on those issues once the legislation is released, but in the meantime we are making it absolutely clear that our principles haven’t changed and we won’t accept user fees.”
AOPA has been actively involved in the ongoing FAA reauthorization debate. Baker has testified at several House and Senate hearings and roundtables on reauthorization issues and met with key lawmakers, including Shuster, to ensure that the needs of the GA community are understood and addressed.