This is Indeed Change We Can Believe in

9:09 PM

The aviators among us have been wringing our hands over the lack of interest demonstrated by the recently ousted Washington regime in completing the job of reauthorizing FAA funding. Well those same pilots and aircraft owners will be happy to know that, finally, seriously positive progress has taken place. AOPA's Warren D. Morningstar has the news via aopa.org:

"The chairmen of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the aviation subcommittee introduced a new FAA funding bill Feb. 9. The Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2009 authorizes nearly $70 billion for the agency for four years without creating new aviation user fees."
Did you read that last sentence? No. User. Fees.

In an interview that was broadcast on Fox News, AOPA President Craig Fuller was quoted as saying:
“It would be very wise to put this program in place. It does come with some increased fuel charges to private aircraft, but that is far better than the user fee approach that was debated over the past few years. We’re hopeful that there is certainty of funding for general aviation over the years ahead.”
The bill has been introduced by Transportation Committee Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) and aviation subcommittee Chairman Jerry Costello (D-Ill.), and when you read the details in this PDF of the full bill, it reads very similar to H.R.2881, the 2007 FAA funding bill supported by AOPA and everyone else with a brain. That is, everyone except Bush, his cronies and their airline buddies who were hoping to push a large part of the FAA funding off on GA via user fees. My .02 cents:
Apparently even the airline CEOs have grown tired of "stay the course" in Washington. Joining AOPA, NBAA, EAA, GAMA, and NATCA in this letter to key House members are previous GA adversaries such as the Air Carrier Association of America, Air Transport Association, National Air Carrier Association, National Air Transportation Association and the Regional Airline Association. I guess the brass of those organizations finally realized that the best way to get FAA funded is to join together with GA instead of continuing a cat fight that accomplished nothing. And without W at the helm to watch their backs and bottom lines, the carriers must have realized that Bushie's replacement was going to do what was right and logical, not just what was profitable for them.
An FAA Reauthorization without user fees is a major victory for GA. And while the bill has yet to be passed, as we all know, the cowboy has left the building. And Transportation Committee Chairman Oberstar says what we're all thinking:
“We have a new President and a new Congress, this time we’ll get the job done.”
In researching this post, I performed a "find/replace" on the term "user fees" on the 254-page Federal PDF of the bill and was elated to find "no matches" show as the result. None. Yes, aircraft registrations will go up, and yes, fuel taxes will see a minor spike. But ask anyone with a pilot's license that flies GA and they'll agree that a few small increases here and there are a million times better than the alternative.

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