The alphabet groups are pleased with President Barack Obama’s proposed 2011 budget.
A preliminary review by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) of the budget proposal appears to show aviation faring well in a year of federal belt tightening, association officials said.
Officials at the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) also were pleased that the proposal includes an extension of bonus depreciation for GA aircraft sales and an increase in funding for additional FAA safety inspectors.
In his State of the Union address on Jan. 27, President Obama announced that he would be seeking cuts in discretionary spending, which would potentially include the Department of Transportation (DOT) and FAA, but that they would not be across-the-board cuts. Some departments and agencies would receive more funding while others would receive less. The FAA appears to be one of the agencies receiving more, and that funding increase will come without the imposition of user fees.
“For the past year, AOPA and the general aviation community have made it clear that user fees are not the best way to fund the nation’s aviation system,” said AOPA President and CEO Craig Fuller.“Today’s budget proposal makes it evident that our voices were heard. Someone in the Obama Administration decided to hit ‘pause’ when they came to the aviation user fee option.
“The decision not to include user fees in the 2011 budget is encouraging, and it allows all of us in the aviation community to focus on important priorities like air traffic control modernization, keeping airports open, and growing the pilot population.”
GAMA officials also said they were pleased that the budget proposal does not include user fees for general aviation.
“We support the administration’s common-sense decision not to propose user fees,” said GAMA’s President and CEO, Pete Bunce. “A burdensome user fee system faced widespread opposition in Congress and universal opposition from general aviation. GAMA stands ready to work with both the administration and Congress to pass an FAA reauthorization bill that will help the agency move forward on air traffic control modernization and other important national priorities.”
GAMA also praised the administration for including an extension of bonus depreciation for GA aircraft sales and an increase in funding for additional FAA safety inspectors. Bonus depreciation is an important tax incentive that has a proven track record of helping manufacturers sell aircraft under tough economic conditions, GAMA officials sad. The additional funding for safety inspectors will help the agency keep pace with certification requests and ensure that new technologies and products which promote safety, efficiency, and modernization are not delayed.
Bunce added, “It is significant that the Administration is on the record supporting bonus depreciation. It is GA manufacturers’ top tax related request this year and we thank the president for including it in his budget and also for recognizing that an adequate safety inspector workforce will help get projects certified and into the market during 2010.”
The administration’s budget proposal moves the United States closer to a space-based air traffic control system with a 30% increase in funding for the Next Generation Air Transportation System, or NextGen. As the budget document notes, the extra funding will support the transformation from a national ground-based radar surveillance system to a space-based system, the development of more efficient air traffic routes, and the improvement of aviation weather information available to pilots in flight.
Part of the money allocated for NextGen implementation – approximately $2 million – is designated for research into a next generation aviation fuel.
The Obama Administration proposal holds the line on the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) at $3.38 billion, essentially the same level at which the program is funded for the current fiscal year.
“We are gratified that the Obama Administration has heeded the concerns of the general aviation community,” said Fuller. “But we will stay vigilant to ensure the user fee idea remains on hold. We will continue to promote an agenda that supports general aviation today and into the future, while increasing our efforts to show opinion leaders and policy makers the value that general aviation delivers to all Americans.”