GAO Further Muddles FAA Funding Debate

 - November 16, 2006, 4:41 AM

The Government Accountability Office’s October 30 report “Observations on Potential FAA Funding Options” repeats some information the GAO released September 27 in airspace system modernization testimony. But an odd graphic in the new report might add confusion to the user-fee debate. Figure 1 on page 5 illustrates the FAA paying for airport, ATC and safety activities. The ATC section’s “IFR Operations Commercial” shows an airliner flying above a “VFR Operations General Aviation” piston single. GA turbine aircraft (and pistons) are not shown interacting in the “IFR Commercial” part of the diagram, which some might interpret as supporting the Air Transport Association’s claims that airliners operate in what it calls “commercial airspace.” The GAO’s Rich Swayze, who wrote the report, told AIN that it would have been clearer to show business jets and piston airplanes in the IFR section but added that the FAA had not mentioned that GA piston aircraft operate in airspace the airlines use.