Subcommittee starts looking at ways to prepare for aviation’s future

WASHINGTON, D.C. — An aviation subcommittee in the House of Representatives started early to examine how best to structure the FAA to meet upcoming challenges.

During a hearing held Thursday, Dec. 12, the subcommittee members heard suggestions from officials with various aviation organizations.

New technologies, new worldwide aviation growth, new businesses and increased populations will bring a need for different approaches to regulations, funding, and other issues.

This hearing was a very public indication of the way this panel responded to the goal of Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) to make certain the FAA and industry can meet the challenges.

Representatives from six different areas of the aviation community were in surprising agreement on many issues, telling subcommittee members their views of the future and how best to prepare for the challenges. In general, the GA officials told the lawmakers that less red tape and regulations, speedier action on issues, and recognition of the need to meet how foreign nations approach aviation can keep the United States competitive in the world.

Ed Bolen, president and CEO of National Business Aviation Association, urged Congress to recognize that airspace is a “public treasure” that must be protected and made available to all because it benefits all. He also urged recognition that while general aviation must pay a fair share of aviation costs, this should continue to be through fuel taxes.

“Anything fees can do, fuel taxes can do better,” he said.

Proper staffing of the FAA is another important area for Congress to consider in its funding. One-third of all FAA employees will be eligible for retirement next year.

The aviation officials said the importance of aviation to rural areas and smaller communities must be considered, recognizing the value of air transportation to these areas.

Speaking at the hearing were officials from the Department of Transportation, Airlines for America, American Association of Airport Executives, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, National Business Aviation Association, and a labor union representing aviation workers.


  1. says

    I wish to get any comments by people interested in doing anything to further General Aviation. My own belief is that the best hope is education…I mean improving education of the young generally, not only getting young people interested in expensive adult activities.

    As a retired professor of Aeronautics, Mechanical Engineering, and Applied Physics at Caltech, I have definite ideas, strongly felt, and based on much experience. I am currently engaged in relevant work, and I wish to speak with Mr. Spence. By the way, I have long (since 1966) been a pilot, and since the age of 4 or 5 deeply seduced by aeronautics

    I am not interested in simply sounding off!

    Fred Culick

    • Kimberly A Bush says

      You obviously have far more credentials in this field than I have time to acquire at this point in my life.
      I am not ‘just sounding off’ (if that was aimed at my response). I write. Letters. To Congressmen. To let them know I am a registered voter who takes the time to vote. For them. To represent ME. And a few of my friends.
      Oddly enough, it seems they either like my writing style
      Just like hearing from a beautiful woman with a famous last name.
      (Even though I have never been able to track down an actual connection)

      • says

        I was not aiming my comments at anybody in particular. But there is a limit to what comments can accomplish, particularly since I doubt that people who should read them and profit, i.e. take them to heart and realize that they are usually sincerely written…simply don’t do both.

        Like many citizens, I really feel that those who choose to claim they read, may do so, but take the comments seriously only if there are $$ implied for the reader, or their particular cause.

        So the most competent and unselfishly concerned people are generally out of office, likely publicly silent, and will never run for office. We are left with our current very shallow, largely self –indulgent politicians, who become representative only of their own points of view, and display little ability to entertain, much less understand opposing points of view. That seems to be the best way to guarantee re-election. Or to get a job after occupying office for some time. Apparently even allegedly held views conveniently change with return to non-elected status. This of course has nothing to do with party, or any other convenient label. Just lack of conviction and commitment.

        What is specially sad is that this kind of situation not only seems generally to get worse, but shows no promise of improving. Maybe it really will a drastic change of some sort. There are recent well documented examples of what is happening now, and we can only hope that somehow things will change.

  2. SuperMom says

    Charles, at al-
    I watched this whole hearing yesterday via livestream.
    Here are some of what I considered ‘the highlights’:
    $50 Billion is generated by GA per year in the US.
    $365 Billion is generated by Commercial Aviation.
    (I live in a State where we are trying to fill a $9 billion spending gap, so these numbers look REALLY HEALTHY to me).
    America invented the aviation industry.
    US Airlines are willing to step up. In spite of government policies that are listless (at best) and antagonistic (at worst) (The A4A guy then went on to tell he had FIVE pillars, outlined THREE, and called it FOUR0
    AAAE Exec talked about the raiding of the AIP to cover the costs of ATC. His org wants the PFC increased, to produce local money under local control.
    OTHER governments treat airlines (not aviation, just the commercial ops) as ‘national assets’. He started to give the Mid-East as a shining example, but got sidetracked.
    The US DOT is ‘looking forward to working with Congress’ [on all questions beyond her prepared speech]
    A4A wants NextGen ASAP, less regulation, no increases
    AAAE wants PFC to fund projects local;, maintenance of contract towers; Keep the EAS designation.
    GAM wants streamlining of certification process; delegation of sign-off processes; Oversight of the FAA
    NBAA wants to establish a goal of being the best [in the world]; Aviation is a public good [like defense]; Congressional oversight; fuel tax increases are the fairest way to fund improvements, to ensure GA participation.
    AFL-CIO want long term funding; safety reforms; cargo pilots exemption for service hours (?) removed; Partner w/ Unions when discussing FAA reauthorization.

    All seemed to agree that we need to look at the rest of the world’s regs and select best practices.
    NextGen ASAP
    Congressional oversight of the FAA
    “Infrastructure” no longer refers to bricks and mortar only
    Creation of MIDDLE-CLASS jobs (remember, Clinton quantified these as single earners making $100,000 per year or dual earners of $200,000.

    And they kept bringing up something called TTIP. It sounds much like TIF districts.

    USDOT should assume the mantle of advocating for Aviation (and thus tasked by Congress) since the FAA is no longer under that mandate. (This guy said since 1996???)

  3. Bryan says

    What, exactly does “recognition of the need to meet how foreign nations approach aviation” mean?

    Foreign nations have privatized their ATC functions and charge user fees to cover the cost. ATC is a safety construct, not a profit center.

  4. Greg W says

    To “prepare for aviation’s future” it is noteworthy that EAA, AOPA,and LAMA (light aircraft manufacturers association), are not part of this. When the two organizations that represent many light aircraft owners/operators and manufacturers are not included it says something about what the Government Leaders want.

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