As the presidential election enters the home stretch, still looming is the thorny question of reauthorizing FAA funding for the next four years and the even thornier question of user fees.
O'Hare International Airport
The city of Santa Monica, Calif., expects that the next step in its ongoing battle over runway restrictions at Santa Monica Airport (SMO) will be oral arguments later this year or early next year.
A five-year plan–four-fifths of which FAA Administrator Marion Blakey could actually see through to fruition–was laid out in draft form in late July for the aviation industry at a meeting at FAA headquarters in Washington. Titled Flight Plan 2004-2008, it sets as its goals: increased safety, greater capacity, international leadership and organizational excellence.
Even though Congress exempted the FAA from standard procurement rules in 1996, the agency remains mired in cost overruns and schedule slippages on many of its major acquisitions, including the wide-area augmentation system (WAAS), standard terminal automation replacement system (Stars), local-area augmentation system (LAAS) and integrated terminal weather system (ITWS).
A shortage of controllers at Chicago Center and an uptick in air traffic in that sector are a prescription for disaster that the FAA has so far ignored at the expense of public safety, claim officials for the air traffic controllers union.
The Chicago Park District board of directors has voted unanimously to proceed with demolition of Chicago Meigs Field. The board, all appointees of mayor Richard Daley, refused to defer the decision even a few weeks to allow the Friends of Meigs Field to present a plan that would reopen the airport as a combined park and airport.
Tax-cut legislation proposed by President Bush was passed by Congress at the end of May and was subsequently signed into law by the President. The bill gave the Administration about half of what was desired–$350 billion in cuts versus $726 billion. Whether the legislation will give a boost to the economy remains to be seen.
No sooner had the ink dried on a report by the Institute for Policy Studies and Essential Action (IPS/EA) claiming super-wealthy private jet owners are enjoying tax breaks and luxury at the public’s expense than general aviation stood up to vociferously disagree.
A study conducted by Millennium Challenge, MWH Americas and HNTB Federal Services projects a 51-percent increase in passenger traffic to Mali’s Bamako Airport. The landlocked African country depends on air travel, according to Hugh Weaver, HNTB federal aviation practice leader, and its leaders recognize the importance of upgrading facilities not only for airlines but also for business aviation travelers.
The city of Santa Monica’s latest attempt to prohibit operation of Category C and D jets at Santa Monica (Calif.) Airport (SMO) is on hold again, following a U.S. District Court ruling. The court held a hearing to consider a temporary restraining order filed by the United States and the Department of Transportation after the city council voted in April to enact the ban on aircraft with approach speeds greater than 121 knots.