FAA Funding Bill Includes Focus on Small Aircraft Certification

On Feb. 3, the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) and Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) introduced the Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act, a six-year reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration. The current authorization of the FAA expires March 31.

The proposed legislation includes plans to establish an independent, not-for-profit corporation, outside of the federal government, to modernize and provide U.S. air traffic control services.

According to the press release issued by the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the federally chartered air traffic control corporation will be governed by a board representing the aviation system's users and the public interest.

The reauthorization bill also includes language to appoint committees and boards to preside over streamlining the FAA's aviation equipment and aircraft certification processes, directs the FAA to provide more workforce training, and addresses aviation safety issues that includes the promotion and streamlined certification of safety-enhancing equipment.

The bill was introduced just a few days after Congressional leaders in both the House and Senate expressed bipartisan opposition to privatized air traffic control funded with user fees. Click here to read the opposition letter from House members. Click here to read the opposition letter from members of the Senate.

"At first glance of the 270-page bill, the AEA is pleased the legislation addresses easing the burdens of certification and includes language that FAA aviation safety inspectors need more training to perform their jobs," said Paula Derks, AEA president. "However, we are extremely troubled with the proposed privatization of the air traffic control system.

"Our concerns include unforeseen transition costs and the increased operational costs within the industry, which will be financed by a user fee scheme. Lobbied for by all major airlines, with the exception of Delta, we feel this privatization proposal is a power play by the airlines to dictate what fees the general aviation industry will pay in the future."

The AEA will be thoroughly examining this proposed bill and will report back to its members.

Click here to read the proposed AIRR Act in its entirety.

Contact Ric Peri, AEA vice president of government and industry affairs, by email at ricp@aea.net or by phone at 202-589-1144.