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Fri, Sep 21, 2007

Boyer Calls House FAA Reauthorization Bill 'Great Model' For Funding ATC

Thanks Members For Contacting Representatives

As ANN reported, the House of Representatives passed H.R.2881, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2007, on Thursday. The bill would fund the FAA through 2011, provide additional money for the agency's planned air traffic control modernization, and increase the funds for airport improvements... particularly small general aviation airports, according to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

"H.R. 2881 is a great model for funding our future aviation system," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "And the best news for general aviation—no user fees, a modest fuel tax increase for NextGen, and no tax cuts for the airlines."

Boyer also thanks AOPA members who assisted the organization's battle, "by responding to our targeted communications asking them to contact certain members of the House at key times."

Next up comes the Senate... where a far different plan to fund the FAA is being considered. The Senate Finance Committee was scheduled on the Thursday to debate changes to the Senate's version of an FAA funding bill (S.1300).

Unlike the House plan, the Senate version calls for no new user fees for pilots flying piston aircraft in VFR conditions. The plan would phase out a 4.3 cent per gallon tax airlines pay for fuel, however, and compensate for lost revenue with the introduction of a new per-trip fee for turbine general aviation pilots who fly under IFR flight plans, with limited exceptions for medical flights and other emergency operations

That plan doesn't hold water with several aviation letter-groups... as it leaves the door open for more onerous fees down the line. Once the Senate bill is finalized and approved by the full Senate, a conference committee will resolve the differences between H.R. 2881 and S.1300.

"We said from the beginning, take user fees off the table and we'll discuss whether there should be an adjustment in what GA pays," said Boyer. "General aviation is willing to pay more to improve the air traffic control system, unlike the airlines who wanted to change the entire FAA funding system to obtain a huge tax cut for themselves."

H.R. 2881 would provide nearly $68 billion to the FAA over the next four years, according to AOPA. Some $13 billion would be available to maintain and improve FAA facilities and equipment, including $5 billion for the start of the NextGen air traffic control modernization program.

Another $15.8 billion would be put into the Airport Improvement Program, and more than $37 billion for FAA salaries and other operational expenses.

"The House has demonstrated that the administration and the airlines were wrong," said Boyer. "The system was never broken. We can continue to maintain and improve the world's safest aviation system within the time-proven aviation tax system."

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

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