Aviation groups are becoming increasingly concerned that the U.S. Congress is headed for another extension of the FAA’s operating authority, with a more comprehensive reauthorization bill possibly pushed off until next year. The FAA is already operating under its second extension, and Congress has a July 15 deadline to pass a comprehensive FAA reauthorization bill or opt for a third extension.
"Recent reports suggest that U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) may propose a simple extension of FAA programs into next year,” said GAMA president and CEO Pete Bunce. “Unfortunately, the impact of such a proposal would mean that bipartisan provisions in both the Senate-passed and House Committee-passed FAA bills that would improve aviation safety, reduce bureaucratic inefficiencies and help support aviation manufacturing jobs would not be enacted.”
In February, the House T&I Committee passed its version of comprehensive FAA reauthorization legislation, but that bill has stalled over opposition to a measure to create a separate not-for-profit air traffic control organization. The Senate passed its version of the FAA bill—minus the controversial ATC measure—in April.
Bunce urged the House to move forward on the Senate measure. “The general aviation manufacturing industry continues to face considerable economic crosswinds, and it is important that key certification and regulatory changes occur as soon as possible to ensure the U.S. maintains its leadership position. Delay until next year should not be an option,” he said.
Bunce’s call followed a letter sent by Senate Commerce Committee chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) and ranking Democrat Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), also urging their House counterparts to take up the Senate bill. The senators warned that the House ATC measure likely would not win full Senate support at this time.
Separately, the coalition formed to oppose the ATC measure, the Americans Against Air Traffic Privatization (AAATP), noted that more than 10,000 letters have been sent to Congress in opposition to Shuster’s ATC reorganization effort. “With only 40 days until the expiration of the FAA reauthorization, the opposition to privatization is only growing as the deadline approaches," said AAATP president Brad Bauman.