Washington, DC, October 1, 2013 – As a federal shutdown began unfolding today, and Washington policymakers looked ahead to a continuing battle over the nation’s debt ceiling, along with more sequester-driven spending cuts for government agencies, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) President and CEO Ed Bolen called on government leaders and industry stakeholders to quickly develop a path for FAA spending amidst the uncertain funding environment in Washington.
“The aviation industry is more regulated than most, so the government shutdown, and further moves to continue cutting federal spending, will have a more profound long-term impact on our industry than for others,” Bolen said. “This means that, while tough choices need to be made when it comes to funding aviation programs and services, they must be made wisely.
“Those of us in the business aviation community care deeply about the future of the aviation industry, so we need to be part of any discussion about how and where cuts could be made, and what proposals should be considered for addressing cost-containment, while not harming the industry.”
Bolen noted that a number of policy ideas have been considered by aviation stakeholders in recent years, which would help the FAA realize important savings without reducing safety, or eliminating essential services. He pointed to three such initiatives:
1. Reforming the certification process. New aviation technologies are under development, which have the potential to enhance safety, drive down costs and reduce operators’ environmental footprint. But, in order to get these products to market in a timely manner, changes must be made to the current certification process. The necessary changes were recommended by the Commission on the Future of the U.S. Aerospace Industry in 2003, and more recently, in legislation to streamline equipment certification (commonly known as the “Small Aircraft Revitalization Act”) which, according to FAA officials, has the potential to double safety at half the cost.
2. Establishing a process for consolidating facilities in accordance with Section 804 of the FAA reauthorization bill. Section 804 of the FAA reauthorization bill, which was signed into law last year, directs the FAA to come forward with a business plan for reviewing facilities with an eye toward needed realignments, consolidations and/or maintenance plans. It also establishes a process for such a review, which includes representation by air traffic controllers, industry stakeholders and the public.
3. Prioritizing “NextGen” projects. As part of the FAA’s work to develop the plans and technology for replacing the nation’s existing radar-based aviation system with a next-generation (“NextGen”) system based on satellite technology, agency officials asked a federal advisory committee to prioritize NextGen projects – a task the committee has completed, and which provides a roadmap for transitioning to NextGen in an efficient, logical and cost-effective manner.
“Taken together, these initiatives have the potential to save the federal government significant money, even by Washington standards,” Bolen said. “Equally important, these changes are not destructive – they are designed to foster the long-term growth of the aviation industry. Our hope is that Congress and FAA leaders will include these proposals in any debate about how to address the nation’s fiscal challenges.
“We recognize that the requirement for budget cuts is a serious challenge,” Bolen continued. “But it doesn’t need to be a crisis, and it doesn’t need to be destructive.
“Since the Wright brothers’ first flight, the U.S. has led the world in virtually all aspects of aviation. How we handle the present situation will go a long way toward determining if that continues to be true in the future.”