President signs omnibus funding bill; averts government shutdown

On May 4, the United States Congress passed an omnibus funding bill that will keep the government funded through Sept. 30, which is the end of fiscal year 2017, and avoids a government shutdown. The bill was quickly signed by President Donald J. Trump.

The legislation includes $16.41 billion in budgetary resources for the Federal Aviation Administration, which is $127 million more than last year’s amount and $507.5 million above the president’s request. It also includes more than $1 billion for the FAA’s NextGen modernization program and $7 million for alternative general aviation fuels research to help transition the fleet to an unleaded aviation fuel.

In addition, an explanatory statement was included in the legislation regarding the possibility of air traffic control privatization, which said: “The attempt to remove the air traffic control system from the FAA is fraught with risk, could lead to uncontrollable cost increases to consumers, and could ultimately harm users of and operators in the system, including the flying public, the aviation community, FAA’s workforce, and the small towns in rural America that rely on access to the national airspace.”

Earlier this year on March 21, a host of general aviation association leaders joined together to send letters to House and Senate transportation leaders underscoring “real and long-standing concerns” regarding a concept being pushed by some big airlines regarding air traffic control. The AEA, along with 15 other aviation organizations, cited concerns over a proposal promoted by some big airlines for the creation of "a new governance and funding model for our nation's aviation system, based on systems in other parts of the world.”