by Craig Fuller – President & CEO
Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association
As a friend of mine likes to say, “Elections matter.” Even when our own political representatives aren’t on the ballot, the fact is, who gets elected and how they view the world have far reaching effects on us all.
The 112th Congress has been at work for several months, with new committee leaders getting down to business and acting on their priorities. Fortunately for the GA community, both houses of Congress have moved quickly to pursue long term funding for the FAA. And, leaders in both houses have expressed their opposition to user fees. At the same time, President Obama’s 2012 budget proposal makes no mention of user fees.
That’s all good news as far as it goes, but we’re still a long way from a final result and plenty can happen along the way. And, let’s face it; this is a terrible time to be asking Congress for money, even if it is for running something as vital as our national aviation system.
In fact, finding ways to reduce spending is the hottest topic in Washington—and most states—right now. In an environment like that, we’d be naive to imagine that general aviation spending would be untouched.
So far, both parties have indicated that they want to preserve funding for general aviation airports—though funding for larger airports could be threatened, and that is a concern. They’ve also shown an inclination to fund NextGen, the next generation of aviation system modernization, and efforts to find a safe and effective replacement for avgas. In fact, AOPA was recently appointed to a new FAA rulemaking panel that will address the transition away from leaded fuel.
But even so, all of us in the general aviation community must remain vigilant. While we are fortunate to have strong support in Congress, and the interest in general aviation issues is high, we are facing a time of cutbacks across the board.
And we still periodically run up against misguided policies and rules, like the one issued recently that would eliminate a pilot’s right to privacy by allowing just about anyone to track any aircraft any time it flies.
That’s why all of us at AOPA, and throughout the aviation community, need to focus on the issues that matter most, be alert for policies and decisions that could have unintended negative consequences, and keep working to enable decision makers and the larger public to understand the many contributions that general aviation makes to our economy and society. And that’s just what we at AOPA are doing—today and every day.