September 20, 2007
House Vote Puts FAA on Path to Financial Security
The following statement was issued by Capt. John Prater, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l, after the U.S. House of Representatives, by a vote of 267-151, passed a bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the next four years.
“ALPA stands in strong support of the FAA reauthorization bill passed today. It puts the FAA on a path to financial security and makes modernizing our nation’s air transportation system a national priority.
“Decisions about how our nation will fund the FAA will define the future of the airline industry. These decisions could foster industry growth, helping to create millions of jobs, fuel tremendous economic expansion, and transport people and goods with unsurpassed safety. Failure to make these decisions could hobble our industry with an outdated infrastructure that dooms it to fail to meet future air traffic predictions.
“We commend Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.), Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Jerry F. Costello (D-Ill.), and their committee colleagues for exemplary leadership in moving a fair funding strategy forward.
“Currently, airlines pay 97 percent of FAA taxes, even though they account for just 73 percent of all air traffic costs. At the same time, business aviation pays just 3 percent of FAA taxes but accounts for 21 percent of all air traffic costs. FAA’s current funding scheme forces airlines to foot the bill for a system that benefits all operators.
“It’s simply common-sense to ask aircraft operators to pay their fair share of the costs they impose on our nation’s air traffic control system. This will not only help ensure that the FAA has adequate funding to keep pace with its costs, linking taxes to costs, but it will also reduce the FAA’s operating expenses by encouraging operators to use its services more efficiently.
“ALPA is also very encouraged by the promising aviation safety initiatives contained in this bill. We commend the support for significant improvements in runway safety and look forward to working with the FAA as it expands the industry’s efforts to prevent runway incursions. We are also pleased to see included in the bill the expanded study of wake-vortex effects, additional research on weather phenomena, and continued action on fuel tank safety.
“Moreover, the bill recognizes the importance of maintaining the same high level of safety for the traveling public, regardless of the vehicle or program involved. We are gratified to see that it maintains that unmanned aerial systems (UAS) should not be introduced into the national airspace until safe operation is completely assured. The bill also reflects the wisdom in noting the critical importance of Wake and Midway Islands to the economic operation of flights in the Pacific.
“Today’s vote also puts a spotlight on pilot fatigue. Pilot fatigue is an increasingly serious issue for ALPA members. Rep. Oberstar’s committee directs the FAA to contract with the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study on pilot fatigue, and then to consider the findings of the Academy and update, where appropriate, its regulations with regard to flight-time limitations and rest requirements for pilots.
“Today’s vote is a welcome step to enhance aviation safety and to create a financing system that requires all who benefit from the national transportation system to also invest in modernizing it.
“Finally, language to raise the pilot upper age limit to 65 is included in the bill. It remains consistent with many of the key recommendations outlined in ALPA’s May 2007 Executive Board resolution. ALPA will continue to be fully engaged on this important issue.”
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union representing more than 60,000 cockpit crewmembers at 41 airlines in the U.S. and Canada. Visit the ALPA website at www.alpa.org for more information.
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ALPA CONTACTS: Pete Janhunen, Linda Shotwell, Molly Martin, (703) 481-4440, firstname.lastname@example.org