Wed, Feb 06, 2008
Former Administrator Continues To Tout Party Line
Just because her office address has changed, doesn't mean former
FAA Administrator Marion Blakey's views on funding the agency --
and the much-bandied "next generation" air traffic control system
-- have been altered in the slightest. This week, Blakey came out
in support of the Bush administration's fiscal year 2009 FAA budget
request, saying the proposal provides a major step forward in air
transportation modernization, and Congress should support the
In a release to ANN, Blakey -- now the President and CEO of the
Aerospace Industries Association -- added the request significantly
increases funding for development and implementation of the Next
Generation Air Transportation System, known as NextGen. The
increase will go largely to advanced satellite-based air traffic
management technologies like Automatic Dependent
Surveillance-Broadcast, or ADS-B.
"This investment will boost ongoing efforts to advance NextGen
and deal with the daunting challenges posed by the ever-increasing
demand for air travel," Blakey said.
As ANN reported, general
aviation 'letter-groups' protested the administration's budget
plan, which includes $688 million for the transition to the
agency's much-touted -- but so far, under-realized -- NextGen air
traffic control system. Those groups don't disagree that NextGen is
needed... but to help pay for it and keep spending in line, the
White House also called for deep cuts in programs vital to smaller
airports, most notably the Airport Improvement Program.
In a repeat of last year's budget
request -- which was subsequently trounced by Congress -- the
FY2009 proposal also calls for new user fees against general
aviation pilots... all-the-while continuing to show apparent
favoritism towards airlines.
Blakey counters the funding increases come as planning for
NextGen is maturing and the need moves to developing and
implementing the technologies involved. AIA believes it is
important for the FAA to take these tangible steps forward toward
implementing the new air transportation system, she added.
It's almost reassuring in a way... that even with a new job
title on Ms. Blakey's business card, her discord with general
aviation remains intact...
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