Big Plans For The FAA... But How Will They Pay?
On Monday, DOT Secretary Norman Mineta unveiled President Bush's
fiscal year 2007 budget for the agency. As expected, the $65.6
billion proposed budget includes several programs aimed at
increasing safety on America's roads, rails, seas, and skies... the
last of which, of course, is of more than passing interest to ANN's
readers and staff.
We're still waiting to see what, precisely, the 2007 budget
holds for the future of general aviation -- the agency says it
will release those details on its website in the next day or so --
but already, some of Mineta's remarks have raised eyebrows. When
the facts become available, ANN will be there to bring you the
highlights (and, alas, possible lowlights).
We've also invited several industry heavyweights to comment
on how they feel the 2007 budget will impact the ongoing
battle over increased costs for pilots -- specifically, in the form
of user fees.
Below, ANN presents the portion of Mineta's speech Monday,
unedited, on changes and programs at the FAA.
Approaching even more
quickly is reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration
and the taxes that finance the Aviation Trust Fund, which expire at
the end of FY 2007.
Currently, our primary funding source is tied to the price of a
ticket. But there is general consensus that our growing aviation
system needs a more stable and predictable revenue stream –-
one that creates a more direct relationship between revenues
collected and services provided.
Soon, the Bush Administration will propose a reauthorization
plan that will include a solid, forward-looking financing proposal
for the Aviation Trust Fund. Until reauthorization, the
President’s 2007 budget provides $13.7 billion from a
combination of trust fund and general fund revenues.
Of the requested amount, $8.4 billion will address the
FAA’s operational needs and fund hiring needed safety
inspectors and replacing retiring air traffic controllers.
An additional $2.8 billion is provided for Airport Improvement
Program (AIP) grants, which were instrumental in helping restore
service last year to several Gulf Coast airports shut down by
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The airport construction grant request
for 2007 is sufficient to address construction needs for all
currently planned runways and meet our goal for improving runway
Looking to the future, the Department’s budget provides
$122 million for the Next Generation Air Transportation System
initiative. Early progress in this multi-agency effort is
encouraging, and our budget includes $80 million for the FAA for
the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) program, a
technology that will replace ground-based radar systems and
revolutionize air navigation and surveillance.
In addition, the budget provides $24 million for System Wide
Information Management (SWIM), which will make a network-enabled
air traffic system possible, improving safety, efficiency, and
security. These are the building blocks of the NextGen initiative,
which will transform the way that America flies.