AOPA Succeeds In Lobbying For GA Priorities In FAA Budget
aviation programs will get the money they need from Congress as
part of a $13.8 billion FAA budget passed last week on Capitol
"In a tight budget year with most government programs hit with
across-the-board cuts, this level of funding for general aviation
is a real tribute to the commitment of AOPA's legislative affairs
staff on Capitol Hill," said AOPA President Phil Boyer.
"The support of AOPA's political action committee also helped
build relationships and greatly enhanced our ability to present a
businesslike case for general aviation."
But the fight against user fees appears to be an ongoing one.
While the user fee prohibition is legally binding, it's only in
place for one year. So Congress could change its mind.
A top concern of pilots voiced at AOPA Pilot Town Meetings is
the continued availability of aviation gasoline for higher
performance piston engines. The FAA's budget addresses that as
well. Congress directed specific funds for "research into modifying
general aviation piston engines to enable their safe operation
using unleaded aviation fuel."
"There are already no lead alternatives for lower horsepower
engines," said Boyer. "While totally eliminating leaded fuel is
still probably a decade away, we will have to get the lead out.
FAA-funded research will help ensure that the big-bore Continentals
and Lycomings don't become obsolete."
The 2005 FAA budget
continues to include $3.5 billion for airport improvements, with
some $341 million earmarked exclusively for reliever and general
More instrument approaches to general aviation airports are also
part of this year's budget. Congress approved the full $100 million
that AOPA had recommended for wide area augmentation system (WAAS)
implementation. That includes direction to create WAAS GPS
approaches to non-air carrier airports. (See "What's Up with WAAS"
coming soon in December's AOPA Pilot magazine. Also view our short
WAAS video from AOPA Expo.)
The budget bill also contains language that AOPA had pushed for
to ensure that pilots continue to get good weather briefings and
other safety services, regardless of who may ultimately provide the
service. The law instructs the FAA to require "comprehensive and
specific customer service standards for providing flight briefings
to pilots as well as a process for ongoing customer service
monitoring and evaluation" from any flight service provider. (The
FAA is conducting an A-76 study to determine if any services
currently provided by flight service stations should be handled by
private contractors or government/industry partnerships. See
"Modernizing Flight Service" in August's AOPA Pilot.)
The conference agreement has been passed by the House and
Senate. Following technical corrections, the bill will be forwarded
to the President who is expected to sign the measure in early