Inside the Fence

Feb. 5, 2007
On bizav, funding, and the issue of control...

On the road in Phoenix at press time, the word once again from the business aviation sector is ‘bullish.’ The annual NBAA Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference — a top venue for FBOs, Part 135s, and airports seeking to attract business aircraft to their facilities — continues to set records for attendees and exhibitors. It’s hard to find anyone in this industry sector who is not highly optimistic about the business of business aviation.

That said, NBAA president Ed Bolen expresses concern that the funding debate now ensuing in Washington could lead to much higher tax rates for GA/business aviation. A discussion with NATA president Jim Coyne, however, suggests that the new U.S. Congress may be more amenable to the concerns of general aviation. While a jump in the fuel excise taxes for GA may be inevitable, Coyne is becoming more optimistic that the industry segment will get a fairer hearing than it might have prior to last November’s elections.

Meanwhile, airports continue to seek more business control over their facilities, a position that will be imbedded in the funding debate this year. Evidence of this can be found in ACI-NA’s recent response to an FAA notice of proposed rulemaking that seeks to find a solution to the congestion at New York’s LaGuardia Airport. The high-density rule at LGA technically expired on January 1, but FAA temporarily extended the rule as it seeks to find a longer term solution to the congestion issue. At LGA, it’s proposing to regulate the size of aircraft airlines can fly into the airport in an attempt to move more passengers through the airport.

Much of this arises out of the last time FAA — as directed by Congress — attempted to address access issues for Northeast communities who wanted more service to LGA. The result was an onslaught of smaller regional airliners, which just compounded the problem.

ACI-NA calls on FAA to allow the airport operator, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, to be able to address the capacity issues at LGA. In other words, control.

Meanwhile, while this magazine rolls off the press, FAA and the Administration were expected to release their proposal for how the system is funded. Last March, the airlines via ATA released their proposal, which seeks new user fees for business aviation, along with modernization of the air traffic control system and a seat on a proposed oversight board. Industry has been anticipating that FAA’s proposal will in effect mirror ATA’s position.

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Finally, the Airport Cooperative Research Program is seeking “problem statements” from airports in its ongoing initiative to find solutions to issues facing airports. The problem statements can range from operations to safety to engineering. For more details, visit
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