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FAA Bills Being Drafted in Senate, House

February 17, 2011 —The FAA Reauthorization bills currently being drafted in both the House of Representatives and Senate will, once approved, authorize the FAA’s revenue collection and activities over the next several years. Legislative initiatives as large and seemingly impersonal as the reauthorization bill represent significant efforts. Ultimately, these initiatives have a direct effect on you, your flying freedoms, and the aviation community. EAA is currently working on many issues within the proposed FAA reauthorization bill.

Vintage Aircraft Data Release - One provision would require the FAA to retain data for early vintage aircraft and release that data to the public when the type certificate is no longer being supported. This will help vintage aircraft owners and restorers to maintain, repair, and restore their aircraft. EAA has been working closely with the FAA and Congress on this language for years.

Through-the-Fence Agreements (TTF) - A proposed revision to TTF regulations, partially drafted by EAA, would allow residential (non-commercial) through-the-fence operations at the discretion of the local airport sponsor (rather than at a national level) without compromising the ability of the airport to receive federal funds. Residents would be required to maintain the access at their expense and pay the going rate for similar on-airport access.

Unleaded Aviation Fuel Research Program - EAA is helping Congress develop language that would raise the priority of the unleaded avgas research program at the FAA. This program supports all EAA members, regardless of aircraft or engine type, by ensuring a viable and sustainable supply of aviation fuel well into the future.

Volunteer Pilot Liability Protection - An EAA-supported amendment in the Senate version of the bill would provide personal liability protection for pilots conducting medical airlift and similar flights, affording protection to members who extend their talents and resources for the betterment of society.
These initiatives have a direct impact on individual EAA members and large segments of the aviation community. EAA’s presence in Washington, D.C., monitors and promotes issues such as these that have significant local/individual impact.

User fees not included
EAA applauds Representatives Tom Petri (R-WI) and Jerry Costello (D-IL) for sending a letter to President Obama on January 21, 2011, opposing user fees. That bipartisan letter was signed by 116 House of Representatives members. Instead, the Administration will rely on fuel excise taxes as a funding source.

Despite deep cuts in airport improvement program (AIP) funding (down from $3.5 billion to $2.4 billion), GA airports remain funded at current levels. EAA is pleased that the Administration recognizes that GA airports have no way other than AIP funding to obtain money for critical infrastructure improvements. Large and medium commercial hub airports can raise such funding through passenger facility charges, which they will be allowed to increase per the proposed budget.

NextGen modernization is a major emphasis in this budget, with $1.24 billion marked to improve the air traffic control system, up $370 million from the FY 2011 budget. NextGen represents the transition from a ground-based to a satellite-based air traffic control system.

Not included in the proposed budget are guaranteed low-interest loans or other innovative financing options to make it financially easier for GA aircraft owners to adopt NextGen technology. EAA, AOPA, and other GA groups have advocated that GA owners need financial assistance akin to that proposed for airlines. The budget proposes a National Infrastructure Bank that guarantees private loans to airlines to equip aircraft with NextGen equipment. The Administration’s budget request is step one in the FAA budget appropriation process for the coming year.

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