Sen. John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV (D-WV) is the new chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. Long a crusader to force general aviation to pay more into the Airport and Airways Trust Fund, Rockefeller was the author of last year’s failed Senate version of the FAA reauthorization bill, which included user fees for general aviation. One reason the bill failed to pass was Rockefeller’s user fee intransigence.
“I don’t want to create a system where airline passengers subsidize corporate jets,” Rockefeller said at that time, appealing to Senate populists. With corporate jets on the Senate’s current target list, that statement could carry more weight this year, GA proponents fear.
Rockefeller has threatened to “look for ways to limit general aviation access to congested airspace” unless corporate aviation is required to pay his proposed user fees. As chairman of the Commerce Committee, which holds a powerful influence over FAA actions, his threats must be taken more seriously.