PRESIDENT'S PERSPECTIVE

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NBAA Continues to Urge Congress to Pass FAA Reauthorization This Year

By Ed Bolen

NBAA Members are well aware of the long fight the big airlines have waged against general aviation (GA) in their attempt to persuade Congress to impose user fees and turn over significant control of the aviation system to the airlines as part of “reauthorizing,” or funding the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the next few years.

The airlines’ major lobbying arm, the Air Transport Association (ATA), has invested millions of dollars in this battle. However, in spite of the airlines’ multi-million dollar campaign, the reauthorization legislation passed by the full House, and pending in the Senate, builds upon the proven and efficient fuel tax for funding the FAA and helping support aviation system modernization.

Nevertheless, final action on FAA reauthorization was stalled earlier this year in a Senate debate over issues unrelated to funding of the air transportation system. With the matter still unresolved in June, Congress passed another extension of current funding levels for the FAA until September of this year.

As Congress continues to debate FAA reauthorization, the ATA has kept up its attack on the general aviation community, promoting anti-GA messaging in e-mails to frequent fliers, articles in airline seatback magazines, and advertising in several Capitol Hill publications.

One recent example of ATA’s campaign of distortion was the e-mail it sent to airline frequent fliers accusing general aviation of somehow impacting traffic into and out of Kentucky during the Kentucky Derby weekend.

NBAA immediately responded with a media statement released nationwide saying the ATA’s suggestion that “GA air traffic at a well-planned weekend event in a single location was somehow problematic is simply laughable. The fact is, delays are caused by the airlines overscheduling flights 365 days a year at big city airports all across the country.”

Rest assured that NBAA is determined to support general aviation, and to continue providing accurate rebuttals to charges like these, which paint general aviation with a negative brush.

We also will continue urging Congress to approve FAA reauthorization based on the fuel tax so that we build on the work already done to transition the nation’s aviation system to a more efficient one based on satellite technology.

The real winners if Congress acts this year will be the people in thousands of towns and communities, as well as small to mid-size businesses nationwide, all of which depend on general aviation for vital transportation, especially in this struggling economy.

We urge NBAA Members to join with others across the GA community in keeping Congress informed about the importance of passing a final FAA package before the year ends.

To express your views to your representative, click on the Contact Congress banner ad located at the top-right corner of NBAA’s web site at www.nbaa.org. To learn more about what you can do, visit NBAA’s Online Advocacy Center at www.nbaa.org/advocacycenter.