First Long-Term Funding Bill for Agency Since 2007

February 15, 2012

A five-year battle to provide long-term direction and funding for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) came to an end February 14, as President Barack Obama signed H.R. 658, the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 into law.

The bill provides $63.4 billion to fund the agency through 2015, including approximately $11 billion towards the FAA’s proposed Next Generation (“NextGen”) air traffic control system.

“NBAA is pleased the FAA will at last have the necessary, long-term authorization in place to ensure the U.S. air transportation system remains the largest, safest and most efficient in the world,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “We thank the President, and lawmakers in both the House and Senate, in working to bring this measure to a successful resolution.”

The reauthorization package leaves the proven, efficient and effective fuel tax as the means for general aviation to pay for its use of the aviation system.

“The FAA reauthorization bill acknowledges what we have said before – that fuel taxes are simply the most effective and efficient means for general aviation to pay for its use of the aviation system,” Bolen said. “We ask that the president and Congress take the same approach when it comes to other legislation for meeting FAA’s operational needs, without implementing onerous user fees, which bring with them an administrative compliance burden for operators and a new bureaucratic collection system for government.”

Since 2007, the FAA has relied on 23 temporary funding measures to continue operations. Though the bill approved by the president does not call for user fees for funding the FAA in the future, that does not mean that user fee proposals are no longer a concern. For example, as NBAA has reported, the President’s proposed fiscal year 2013 budget includes a proposed $100 per-flight user fee.

In addition to providing much-needed capital to move forward on technologies for NextGen, such as greater deployment of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) systems, the reauthorization bill also includes a plan to transition to new pilots’ certificates with improved tamper-resistance measures.