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AOPA, NBAA Reassert Need For Swift Action On FAA Modernization

Angel Flight Applauds Amendment To Extend Liability Protections

Even though further debate on the Senate's plan for FAA reauthorization is stalled temporarily, that doesn't mean everyone is standing still. At a news conference Thursday, the leaders of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) joined with Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) to appeal for the swift passage of S.1300, and thank the senators for their efforts.

"On behalf of the almost 415,000 members of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), let me congratulate and thank Chairman Baucus and Senator Grassley for their leadership in crafting an FAA reauthorization bill that ensures modernization of the air traffic control system, provides needed funds for airport improvement, and enhances safety," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "But of most importance to all our members, their bill does this through the current system of aviation taxes that have generated a stable and reliable funding stream for 40 years.

"General aviation, which includes all flying except the airlines and the military, is an integral part of the US economy, supporting 1.3 million jobs and more than $150 billion of total economic activity," Boyer added.

"We commend Senators Baucus and Grassley for bringing a collaborative approach to working with other members of the Senate to produce a bill that is clearly in the best interests of the United States and everyone who depends on aviation, including general aviation," NBAA President Ed Bolen (below) told the assembly gathered in the Dirksen Senate Office Building. "We're grateful for their hard work and leadership on this issue."

As for critics of the plan -- including the White House Office of Management and Budget -- who say the bill doesn't place enough financial burden on the general aviation community, Boyer notes the compromise bill includes steep new taxes on turbine-powered aircraft.

"More than 110,000 members either fly or are on a career track to fly turbine-powered aircraft," Boyer said. "A 65 percent increase in tax on this aviation segment, in light of skyrocketing fuel prices, indicates our financial contribution for the betterment of air travel for all Americans."

Not ALL Amendments To S.1300 Are Pork

ANN also received word from supporters of Grace Flight and Angel Flight pilots, noting Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) introduced an amendment (S.A.4606) to the FAA Reauthorization bill to extend liability protection to volunteer pilots, volunteer pilot organizations (VPO) such as Grace Flight of America, and the various regional Angel Flight organizations.

"We would like to ask all of our pilots to call their two Senators in Washington as soon as possible to voice support for this amendment," the groups write. "PLEASE, make your voice heard by calling today! This legislation has been in the works for 8 years and this is the closest we have come to success."

If you don't know who your senators are, a list is provided by state at the first FMI link below.

FMI: www.senate.gov, www.aopa.org, www.nbaa.org, www.graceflight.org, www.angelflight.com

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