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Thu, Feb 12, 2009

AOPA's Fuller Shows His Support For FAA Funding Plan

Says Industry Is "Unified" On Need To Reauthorize Agency

Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association President Craig L. Fuller told Congress on Wednesday that AOPA members strongly support the new Federal Aviation Administration funding (reauthorization) bill just introduced in the House of Representatives. Testifying during the sixth week of his presidency, Fuller reminded the House Transportation and Infrastructure Aviation subcommittee that he has flown for 42 years and understands firsthand what it means to be a general aviation pilot.

"The bottom line for us is that we support the measure, we support the use of aviation fuel taxes as a means of support from our segment of the aviation community," Fuller said in his testimony. He noted that general aviation had agreed to do its share to support air traffic control (ATC) modernization by accepting an increase in aviation fuel taxes, rather than user fees.

Fuller pointed out that, unlike past years, the entire industry supports the FAA funding bill this time around.

"I think it is important and impressive that we are here today in agreement on FAA reauthorization," said Fuller. "We’re all unified, all believing from our unique perspectives that the FAA reauthorization needs to go forward for a four-year period, not only to give certainty to the agency, but to give certainty to all of us who fly in the system, and who invest in system."

In his prepared testimony, Fuller said AOPA members endorse a four-year authorization bill that provides much-needed investment in safety, ATC modernization, FAA operations, airport improvements, and aviation research. Members also supported, "the time-tested system of passenger transportation and general aviation fuel taxes in combination with general fund revenues to support the FAA and the aviation system."

He praised Transportation Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN) and aviation subcommittee Chairman Jerry Costello (D-IL) for their leadership in the last Congress that led to the agreement not to impose user fees. Prior to his testimony, Fuller held private meetings with Oberstar and other key members of Congress concerned with FAA funding.

"Everybody knows how concerned our members are about user fees," Fuller (shown below) said. "AOPA strongly supported the financing approach contained in H.R.2881," the FAA funding bill that passed the House but stalled in the Senate during the last Congress.

The new FAA funding bill -- The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2009 (H.R.915) -- is nearly identical to H.R. 2881. As ANN reported, that bill was approved by the House in September 2007... but the Senate's version stalled in committee. Reps. Oberstar and Costello introduced the new bill February 10.

When asked about fees for FAA services, such as aircraft registration, included in the new bill, Fuller responded he understood the need for existing fees... but added AOPA "would take exception" to the proposed new $42 fee for renewing a medical certificate.

FMI: www.congress.gov, www.aopa.org, www.faa.gov

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