FAA and industry must come together, Huerta says

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The aviation industry and the government must come together and answer the question of what kind of aviation system is wanted and how it can be financed, FAA Administrator Michel Huerta told the Washington Aero Club.

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Michael Huerta

The industry has many segments with different interests and each is pushing its own agenda, he said, but sequester and the government 16-day shutdown showed that a comprehensive view of priorities and stable funding are needed. Recognizing that each segment of the industry promotes that which is most important to its constituency, there are still broad priorities that can be agreed on, he noted. Industry and government must work together on the details of how to achieve these priorities, he added.

Funding is one of the important areas to be faced. He said the aviation trust fund pays only about two-thirds of the FAA’s budget and the agency is consistently asked to do more with less.

“I think we need to ask ourselves — and you our stakeholders — whether we really want to, and need to, do everything the way we’ve always done it,” he said.

Huerta told the audience of primarily aviation industry representatives that the recent continuing resolution provides the FAA with an annual rate of $100 million more than last year’s budget and is an acknowledgement that cuts the agency is facing have serious consequences on both the FAA workforce and the sustainability of the system.

The agency still must cut hundreds of millions of dollars this year under sequester, he noted. In addition, the agency is facing a $5 billion backlog in deferred maintenance of facilities and equipment.

“We’re going to have to have a thoughtful conversation about what it makes sense for the FAA to continue doing, and what we might stop doing, or do differently,” he said.

Aviation has done much to tie the country together, “linking thousands of runways, landing strips, and terminals in major cities and rural areas,” he said.

The administrator confirmed that work on the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) stopped or was reduced during the government shutdown and a backlog of work piled up. During the shutdown, the FAA issued about 1,000 stop-work orders, he noted.


  1. Larry Meal says

    Do any of you guys remember what the purpose of the aviation trust fund was? Now I read that three quarters of the FAA expenses are funded by the fund…Question..a “young” person I know of told me that he will retire from the ATC system next year. How many young guys are drawing retirement money from the FAA? I was self employed and got to retire at 72. I wonder how my social security that I payed into starting when I was 16, compares to what my “young” friend will receive from the FAA..As I understood it the Trust Fund was to pay for construction of new airports and aviation facilities..no where did it mention the FAA expenses.

  2. Dan Hall says

    Eliminate the 3rd class physical. We had a marvelous chance to increase GA operations and re-vitalize a sagging market with the joint EAA/AOPA proposal for self medical certification in an expanded class of aircraft. FAA stonewalled it. I’m in favor of allowing personal flying in a far more expanded class of aircraft than even the joint proposal suggested but it was a good start. Why doesn’t FAA just get out of the way? Compare if you like, just for instance the physical size of the FAR/AIM from say 1990 to the one from 2013? Lots of regs there Mr Huerta but little to show for it in the way of safety or expansion of the pilot population. The LSA category got us moving in the right direction sir. Now it is time to expand the possibilities into the existing fleet of single engined certified aircraft. All of them. Thanks for your commitment to open the dialog.

  3. Gray says

    The FAA & Gov. Dead Horse Theory
    The tribal wisdom of the Plains Indians, passed on from generation to generation, says that: “When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.”
    However, in government more advanced strategies are often employed, such as:
    1. Buying a stronger whip.
    2. Changing riders.
    3. Appointing a committee to study the horse.
    4. Arranging to visit other countries to see how other cultures ride dead horses.
    5. Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included.
    6. Reclassifying the dead horse as living-impaired.
    7. Hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse.
    8. Harnessing several dead horses together to increase speed.
    9. Providing additional funding and/or training to increase the dead horse’s performance.
    10. Doing a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse’s performance.
    11. Declaring that as the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overhead and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line of the economy than do some other horses.
    12. Rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses.
    And, of course…
    12. Promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position.
    If it ain’t broke, we’ll fix till it is!!!!!!

  4. Dietrich Fecht says

    The previous comments say the most.

    But for me the FAA is not on an enemy of small aviation or pilots as I read it so often. I rely on the fairness and appropriateness of this important authority. The FAA is an institution what is not linked only to the interests of the industry, private pilots, airlines or a political direction. This authority is committed to the overall well and from my view they are doing a quite good job in the world of divergent interests.

    That does not mean that owners and pilots of small private certificated or home built airplanes have not wishes. There are strong recommendations expressed in the comments.

    Perhaps it is the wrong approach to see all general aviation as a homogeneous group of interests. The most number of voters are the mass of small private pilots and small private aircraft owners. This group is politically the most important one. The interests of this people should be more considered in the future.

    When it comes to the need of savings, from my view private flying with SE planes for private transportation doesn`t need a control tower at every small field. And for VFR flying it`s not necessary to have permanent flight following or filing a flight plan for each small hop. And when a flight to an airport 30 miles away over flat country in 3500 feet altitude is planned and blue sky is from horizon to horizon and no wind is expected, is a weather briefing really needed?

    I believe the most costs in the system are not caused by private flying with small SE airplanes. What produces the most costs is IFR, Jet traffic and other types of general aviation, but not small private and hobby or sport flying.

    It is the question whether it is wise to let pay the mass of small pilots with SE airplanes for the corporate and Jet traffic by high taxed fuel prices for the ATC system and/or FAA funding. I believe it is necessary to get auto fuel at each airport. Perhaps street auto fuel too for the growing number of airplane engines which can use ethanol blended gas.

    Business is important but it is not all! The whole society means more than making commercial business only. Please, don`t forget the mass of small pilots and airplane owners with their families and friends. And remember always: Small private flying and experimental airplane building like in the EAA chapters is essential for innovative technological developments in a wide range of aviation.

  5. Bart Gault says

    The issue to me is the needless FAA bureaucratic mentality of saying no to everything the public wants or needs from the FAA. The incompetents, yes incompetents, say no to everything so as to never be corrected. Try the following: One buys a RVSM qualified aircraft that has been certified by the FAA, has a current 91.411 and 91.413, all the installed equipment is certified by the FAA, the pilots are trained in RVSM procedures yet it takes months to get the LOAS. So, we have to burn more fuel (add extra carbon emissions to the atmosphere), take longer times for trips, make more landings for the refueling and wait and wait for the FSDO’s to issue the Letters of Authorization (LOA’s). So very logical of the FEDS. How many accidents have occurred in RVSM airspace, none. The most critical phase of flying is landing, but are LOA’s issued for that, NO. So, but to cruise in RVSM airspace the aircraft needs a LOA. Makes no sense whatsoever. Where is the logic and thoughts of Thomas Paine, “COMMON SENSE.” Until the FAA incorporates those immortal words, our industry will continue to go downhill.

  6. says

    Oh, so now is the time to have a meaningfull coversation about aviation. That might have some creditability if back in April the FAA had not decided to close over 100 contract towers no notice, then decide to close fewer, and then ultimatley close none. I wonder if the Honorable Mr. Huerta would like to fly in an airplane version of the current FAA organization…

  7. says

    Oh, it’s all so complicated. And it doesn’t have to be. Allow the introduction of new pilot candidates into the ranks by making basic aviation affordable. Eliminate the third class medical and the FAA saves money. Pilots feel a whole lot better about learning to fly (or resuming their affair with the sky). Overhaul the needlessly complicated rules on light plane construction and aircraft part certification so manufacturers can afford to build entry level aircraft again. What the heck was wrong with Champs and Luscombes, anyway? Come to some conclusion on stable, lead free fuel. Standardize ADSB transceiver design and give one to every aircraft owner. Garmin et al may hate that, but it will vastly simplify navigation while making VFR flight a whole lot safer. Limit manufacturer liability to something realistic like three years to encourage innovation. But Congress and the FAA have no interest in turning loose a whole new group of pilots who can go wherever they want, whenever they want. It’s all about control, not freedom.

  8. Chris Martin says

    I will speak my mind:

    Ask the industry? Why not also ask the users too? I hope that they also include the people that represent the small guy and that these organizations speak for us.

    I am a sport aviator (but actually Commercial and CFI rated), getting kicked out of my local GA airport due to the growth in corporate aviation presence there. I own two homebuilt aircraft and fly for fun. I don’t want to pay to support the aviation that is kicking me out of the airport I have been in for the last 30 years. They don’t want me there then have the fancy jet owners pay for having that airport there just for them. 100%

    Yes, someone has to pay for it and I agree. On one hand many people say no government but as soon as the FAA starts talking about people paying for the services needed to support all the traffic going in and out of busy airports then a big debate starts. What gives?

  9. says

    It is kind of funny how the FAA’s own policies are doing it in. The more the FAA drives people away from flying, the less fuel is burned, and the less money the FAA takes in.

    The answer is not to charge fewer pilots more. The answer is to encourage more pilots to fly. When I talk to pilots, the biggest reason I hear from them for going inactive is the FAA itself.

    It certainly doesn’t help things that Mr. Huerta seems to prefer playing political games to actually administering the FAA.

  10. Kent Misegades says

    Wrong answer. As Ronald Reagan rightly said, “Government is not the solution to a problem, government IS the problem.” The reason that homebuilding and the new LSA class of aircraft had resulted in such a large number of great new airplanes, engines and related innovations is that designers are more free to try new things without an antiquated FAA approval process holding them back.

    • Dave Sanders says

      The FAA is supposed to provide safety. Instead they are doing just the opposite by forcing all of us to fly antiquated Junk. The skies would be safer if 3/4 of the FAA was eliminated.

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