The House of Representatives this afternoon approved an FAA reauthorization bill that raises the tax on jet-A from 21.8 to 35.9 cents a gallon and the tax on avgas from 19.3 to 24.1 cents a gallon. To the relief of general aviation, it contains no user fees and no concessions to the airlines. The airline taxes–including 7.5 percent on tickets and 4.3 cents a gallon on jet fuel–will remain at existing levels.
National Air Traffic Controllers Association
Congress has begun hashing out the final act in the most recent FAA funding battle. Bills in the House and the Senate are scheduled for votes and the differing measures could proceed to a joint House-Senate conference committee for final resolution later this fall. Some Capitol Hill observers expect that a conference agreement could be reached before the end of this month.
FAA Administrator Marion Blakey will become president and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) when her term as head of the agency ends September 13. AIA is an Arlington, Va.-based trade association representing the nation’s manufacturers of civil and military aerospace products.
The Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) has dismissed all of natca’s charges of unfair labor practices related to the negotiation and implementation of the 2006 air traffic controllers contract. The authority also dismissed unfair labor practice charges that the FAA filed against the Professional Airways Systems Specialists (pass).
The head of the 14,000-member air traffic controllers union said last month that the FAA is trumpeting the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) to mask poor morale and severe staffing shortages among its controller workforce.
The Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) announced yesterday that FAA Administrator Marion Blakey will become the trade group’s president and CEO when she leaves the FAA at the end of her five-year term on September 13. She will step into that role on November 12. She will succeed current AIA president and CEO John Douglass, who announced his retirement several months ago.
• Congress recessed for about a week to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday and returned to face a full plate of pending legislation before recessing again from July 26 through early next month. As of June 25, the bill count in the House of Representatives rose to 4,753 and, in the Senate, to 2,606, which certainly gave legislators plenty to debate.
National Air Traffic Controllers Association president John Carr said, “Fewer eyes watching busier skies is not a scenario any of us want. Unless funds for hiring [new controllers] are appropriated, staff shortages will inevitably lead to serious delays, congestion and, yes, safety concerns.” NATCA is calling for $14 million to be allocated for hiring and training new controllers as part of the FAA’s 2005 fiscal-year budget.
Where is the House’s version of the FAA funding bill? That is the question industry is asking as time draws short to get it through committee and passed on the full floor. A spokesman for the Republican minority confirmed to AIN that the current delay stems from the issue of controller staffing. “Committee leaders urged the FAA and NATCA [the controllers’ union] to resolve their differences,” he said.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is partnering with the FAA to provide veterans with disabilities on-the-job training as air traffic controllers or technicians installing and repairing ATC equipment.