Reaction to New User-fee Bill Swift and Strong

 - May 10, 2007, 12:07 PM

As interested parties begin to delve into the newest FAA funding bill to arrive on Capitol Hill, reaction has been strong. Although the bill, introduced last week by Sens. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), doesn’t propose to raise the jet-fuel tax to quite the level of the FAA’s bill, it does call for an increase from the current 24 cents to 49 cents, phased in over five years. The bill also proposes a $25 “Air Traffic Modernization” fee for all turbine-powered IFR flights, with certain exemptions for turboprop aircraft flying outside controlled airspace. NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen said, “User fees should not be mistaken for a modernization plan, and the airlines shouldn’t be given a financial windfall at the expense of general aviation.” AOPA president Phil Boyer, whose core constituency is better off with this bill than with the FAA’s version, said, “We have real concerns about the precedent-setting introduction of user fees and the impacts on our members who fly turbine aircraft.” For its part, the FAA doesn’t seem to mind which bill is forwarded through Congress, so long as it passes. In a statement prepared for AIN, the agency said, “We are encouraged to see the Senate moving quickly on this bill, as it is critical that legislation be in place on September 30, 2007, when the financing system that funds the FAA expires.”