The libertarian Reason Foundation, which has been promoting privatization for more than 25 years, has published a new study calling for a user-fee system to fund the nation’s ATC. The proposal envisions a user-fee structure that exempts piston-powered general aviation aircraft.
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
Calls to institute user fees to help pay for FAA expenditures in the future continue to generate little support in Congress, as evidenced by a hearing before the House aviation subcommittee early last month.
Mary Peters, who was head of the Federal Highway Administration from 2001 to 2005, is President Bush’s nominee for the post of Secretary of Transportation. If confirmed by the Senate, she will replace Norman Mineta, who resigned in June.
Congress may have approved FAA funding for Fiscal Year 2006 before it adjourned for the Thanksgiving holiday, but the drumbeat for user fees in future years continues. Within days of the passing of the $13.8 billion budget, FAA Administrator Marion Blakey was telling the Washington Aero Club that her agency needed a revenue stream that is tied to the actual cost of services.
The Bush Administration rolled out its FY2007 budget plan early last month, calling for $13.75 billion for the FAA–down from the $14.31 billion for this fiscal year–and doling out a big hit on general aviation airports. Although the proposal does not yet call for user fees, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta warned that the agency will have to “relate revenue sources to the services being provided,” such as ATC.
After the FAA removed the transcript of the first public meeting about the Washington, D.C. air defense identification zone (ADIZ) from the Web, AOPA filed a Freedom of Information Act request to have it returned to public view.
The battle lines over FAA funding have been drawn, with general aviation on one side and the airlines on the other. The dueling began in earnest on March 8, with press conferences from both the Air Transport Association (ATA) and several GA groups.
The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) and AOPA are taking issue with the State Department over proposed changes to the Exchange Visitor Program and J-1 visas that the two organizations contend will adversely affect flight schools and– ultimately–flight safety.
Despite assurances from FAA Administrator Marion Blakey that the agency was near a new financing plan, user-fee storm clouds continue to roil on the horizon without form or shape.
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