Congress Tightens FAA Budget

 - November 3, 2006, 10:19 AM

The $388 billion omnibus spending bill Congress passed late last year cut the FAA’s budget for Fiscal Year 2005 to $13.6 billion, $219 million less than in FY 2004. But lawmakers added $9.5 million more than the Bush Administration requested to train more air traffic controllers.

The omnibus spending bill funds 13 government departments and dozens of agencies for Fiscal Year 2005, which began October 1. The FAA was not alone in receiving funding cuts. Insiders view the omnibus bill as one of the most austere for domestic departments in a decade, with an across-the-board 0.8 percent decrease in funding for all departments.

The FAA will receive $7.775 billion for operations, $2.54 billion for facilities and equipment, $3.5 billion for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) and $131 million for research, engineering and development (RE&D).

Earlier this year, the White House asked Congress to appropriate $7.849 billion for FAA operations, $3.5 billion for AIP and $117 million for RE&D.

AOPA said that GA programs will get the money they need, including about $341 million of the AIP fund earmarked exclusively for reliever and GA airports. The association also noted that Congress approved $100 million for implementing the wide area augmentation system (WAAS) with more WAAS GPS approaches to non-air-carrier airports.

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association claimed that in FY 2004, the FAA lost more than 500 controllers but hired only 13 because it lacked funding.