Fourteen aviation trade associations are urging leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives to reauthorize funding for the FAA before current legislation expires in mid-July.
It seems doubtful, however, that congressional leaders can resolve differences between a Senate reauthorization bill passed overwhelmingly in April and one backed by Rep. Bill Shuster, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
The key difference is Shuster's call for privatization of the U.S. air traffic control system and funding off it through user fees. Such a plan has been promoted by Airlines 4 America, the trade group of U.S. airlines, but rejected by most other aviation associations.
Differences in the bills forced Congress to pass temporary funding for the FAA that expires July 15. Congress' legislative calendars are full of other items to be debated and voted on before then.
In a letter to representatives Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi, leaders of the trade groups noted that "Republican and Democratic leaders from both sides of the Capitol have long acknowledged that operating the FAA under a series of extensions hinders the smooth operation of the agency and creates considerable uncertainty for the nation's aviation stakeholders."
They called on Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who serves as speaker of the House, and Pelosi, a California Democrat and House minority leader, to guide the lower chamber in embracing the Fiscal 2017 FAA reauthorization that the Senate passed in April by a 95-to-3 vote.
"There are many common provisions in both the House Committee-passed bill and the Senate-passed bill that have broad bipartisan support and can have an immediate, unquestioned positive impact on safety, jobs, infrastructure, and competitiveness," leaders of the trade groups said in the June 8 letter. "We encourage the House to follow suit, with strong bipartisan support, so that together we can address important issues and reduce the costly regulatory and certification processes that continue to stifle safety, job creation and growth in the aviation industry."
The 14 groups are the Aerospace Industries Assn., Aircraft Electronics Assn., Aircraft Owners and Pilots Assn., Commemorative Air Force, Experimental Aircraft Assn., General Aviation Manufacturers Assn., Helicopter Assn. International, International Council of Air Shows, National Agricultural Aviation Assn., National Air Transportation Assn., National Assn. of State Aviation Officials, National Business Aviation Assn., Recreational Aviation Foundation and the Small UAV Coalition.
Photo courtesy of the FAA