Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), an avid pilot and co-chair of the House Aviation Caucus, again pressed FAA Administrator Michael Huerta today to set up a loan-guarantee program for owners and operators to finance NextGen avionics upgrades. In a letter to Huerta, Graves reiterated that the 2012 FAA reauthorization bill gave the agency the “authority to, via a partnership with a private intermediary, provide loan guarantees of up to 90 percent of the principal amount…to assist commercial and general aviation aircraft seeking to purchase and install the necessary equipment.”
As chairman of the House Small Business Committee, Graves held a hearing last month on the NextGen avionics mandates, where aircraft owners expressed concern about the costs of equipage, and installers and maintenance trade groups warned of the huge installation backlog. With the January 2020 mandate on the horizon, he is urging Huerta “to start the loan-guarantee program as soon as possible” so that aircraft owners and operators can take advantage of it.
Graves again suggested that the FAA “reach out” to the Small Business Administration, which already operates similar loan-guarantee programs, “to learn about best practices for overseeing such a program.”