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Wed, May 07, 2008

NBAA Urges Congress To Continue Efforts To Pass FAA Reauthorization

Senate May Instead Pass 15-Month Extension To Current Levels

On Tuesday, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) commended Congress for its work to date to fund the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and modernize the nation's aviation system... and urged the Senate to continue its work for passage of FAA reauthorization legislation.

For the past week, the Senate has been considering a reauthorization measure, which includes an additional $290 billion each year for continued transformation toward a satellite-based aviation system, also known as "NextGen." However, as ANN reported, consideration of the measure was suspended after a procedural vote unrelated to FAA reauthorization and funding.

"NBAA commends the efforts made by Senators Inouye (D-HI), Stevens (R-AK), Baucus (D-MT), Grassley (R-IA), Rockefeller (D-WVA), Hutchison (R-TX) and Roberts (R-KS), among others, to reach an agreement on the FAA financing portion of the bill," said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. "In terms of FAA funding, they have reached a workable, reasonable compromise that builds on the proven and effective general aviation fuel tax.

"Given the importance of air transportation to our nation's economy and citizens' quality of life, we hope the Senate will recommit itself to passing an FAA reauthorization bill this year."

The House of Representatives passed its version of the FAA funding bill last year, and has awaited Senate passage of its form of the measure. On April 25, the Senate reached a compromise on a bill maintaining a 65 percent increase on fuel taxes for business-jet operators to fund upgrades to the nation's air traffic control system, from 21.8 cents to 36 cents per gallon.

Conversely, the compromise bill did include a $25-per-trip fee originally proposed for turbine-powered aircraft on IFR flight plans -- a user fee that NBAA vehemently opposed -- nor did it include any new user fees for other general aviation pilots, apart from the increase in fuel taxes.

With the move to halt debate on the Senate plan DOA, however, it appears likely the Senate will instead aim for passing a 15-month extension to the current level of FAA funding (itself an extension of funding levels that expired in September 2007.) That means a decision on the matter would be delayed until September 2009.



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