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.