FAA reauthorization unlikely this year

 - September 28, 2010, 11:33 AM

With yet another short-term extension of FAA funding, taxes and programs set to expire at the end of last month, AOPA, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, the National Air Transportation Association and NBAA joined in an ad that appeared in Politico, a Capitol Hill newspaper, urging Congress to pass FAA reauthorization now.

The ad noted that FAA reauthorization has been delayed 15 times since expiring almost three years ago, and “each temporary extension saps time and resources desperately needed to move general aviation forward.”

Congress returned to Washington in mid-September with a full agenda as the countdown toward Election Day was approaching quickly. Twenty-six associations representing the aviation community sent a letter to the members of the Senate aviation subcommittee urging swift passage of legislation that would reauthorize the FAA.

“We are currently in the final countdown to ensure that our National Airspace System (NAS) becomes even safer and more efficient,” the letter said. “This bill affects all segments of aviation, from general aviation to commercial and cargo airlines, as well as airports, aviation workers, manufacturers, state and municipal governments and, most of all, the flying public. We, as aviation community members, will not stop pushing for this bill because the safety and the future of the NAS, as well as the vital investments in our airports and aviation infrastructure, are far too important to ignore.”

However, Sen. John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), chairman of the full Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, told Dow Jones that the bill is unlikely to get resolved this year.

Two of the sticking points between the separate Senate and House versions of FAA reauthorization are a labor dispute involving FedEx and UPS and an issue involving flights out of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

FedEx objects to language in the House bill that would make it easier for FedEx ground workers to form local bargaining units, which UPS backs for competitive reasons. The squabble over the airport involves a limit on long-range flights instituted many years ago to nurture Dulles International Airport.

But if the House changes hands in November and a Republican takes over the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in January, the labor language could be deleted. It has been shepherded by Rep. James Oberstar (D- Minn.), the current chairman of the ­committee.