Bolen Tells Lawmakers: Industry Supports NextGen, But Not User Fees

Contact: Dan Hubbard, (202) 783-9360,

Washington, DC, October 6, 2011 – In prepared remarks before a congressional hearing held yesterday, NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen emphasized the industry’s steadfast support for efforts to modernize the nation’s system, while underscoring the industry’s strong opposition to user fees as a method of funding the transformation.

He called on lawmakers to support rapid deployment and approval of useful and cost effective new technologies, funded through the existing – and effective – fuel tax structure.

“While much has changed for the industry I represent as a result of the recession, one thing has remained constant – our continued support for modernization of the nation’s air traffic control system,” Bolen told members of the Aviation Subcommittee for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

“Accelerating the transition to the Next Generation air transportation system will advance important national objectives including: further reducing the industry’s environmental footprint, reducing long-term costs at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), enhancing safety, expanding system capacity and reducing delays.”

The hearing came as congress continues to consider various proposals for funding the FAA and transforming the nation’s ground-based aviation system into a satellite-based “NextGen” air traffic control network.

Citing the safety and economic benefits of recently-deployed enhanced visual approaches at a number of airports throughout the southwestern United States, including Albuquerque and Las Vegas, Bolen told lawmakers that NBAA would like greater emphasis on the deployment of similar technologies to benefit all users of the air traffic control system.

Bolen also cited the industry’s desire to see the FAA deploy the operational infrastructure needed to speed replacement of radar surveillance and separation systems with Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcasting technology, or ADS-B.

In his closing remarks, Bolen tied the industry’s support for NextGen to concerns over recent calls for new per-flight user taxes against non-recreational aircraft operators on top of the per-gallon fee on aircraft fuel.

“As I have stated, NBAA supports our nation’s transition to NextGen. We are prepared to do our part to help our country realize the benefits of NextGen including a smaller environmental footprint, enhanced safety, expanded capacity and reduced delays,” Bolen said. “Please understand, however, that our ability to support NextGen is currently at risk because of the proposed $100 per-flight fee that is threatening our industry.

“We look forward to continuing to work with you to make NextGen a reality sooner rather than later,” Bolen added, speaking directly to subcommittee Chairman Tom Petri (R-WI-6) and Ranking Member Jerry Costello (D-IL-12), “And we thank you for consistently recognizing that per-gallon fuel charges work but per-flight taxes destroy.”

Download Bolen’s written testimony (PDF)