FAA Reauthorization Bill Issue Brief____________________

Author: Brad Van Dam, (703) 824-0504

 

What's at Issue?

Almost three years ago, Congress passed H.R. 1000, the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR-21). The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill included a 64 percent increase in Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding, raised the cap on Passenger Facility Charges from $3 to $4.50, and created the Small Community Air Service Development Pilot Program.

 

Since AIR-21 expires on September 30, Congress will need to consider another multi-year FAA reauthorization bill this year or postpone it and take up a short term extension instead. Congress may ultimately choose the latter option. However, Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) the new Chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation, and other committee leaders in the House and Senate have indicated their strong desire to finish the FAA reauthorization bill this year.

 

Status

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Senate Commerce Committee have already started the process by holding several hearings on the FAA Reauthorization bill. Many Administration officials and industry representatives have testified before the committee. At two recent hearings, for example, ACI-NA David Plavin and AAAE President Chip Barclay discussed the two associations' priorities for the next FAA reauthorization bill.

 

Meanwhile, the Administration is drafting its own proposal for the next FAA reauthorization bill. FAA officials have indicated that they intend to send their proposal to Capitol Hill by the end of March. The Senate Commerce Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will likely begin drafting their perspective bills after they receive the Administration's proposal. Although the authorization committees may endorse some of the agency's recommendations, the FAA Reauthorization bills that they introduce in the House and Senate will likely differ from the Administration's proposal in many ways.

 

AAAE/ACI-NA Legislative Affairs Actions

ACI-NA Board of Directors and Goals and Programs Committee members as well as AAAE Board of Directors and Policy Review Committee members have discussed the upcoming FAA reauthorization at numerous meetings in recent months. At those sessions, many suggested that obtaining funds for the AIP program should be a top priority. Many also voiced support for Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority (MWAA) President and C.E.O, Jim Wilding's suggestion that we use the bill to help redefine the role of airports and their relationship with the federal government.

 

In an effort to get a better understanding of issues important to other AAAE and ACI-NA members, the AAAE/ACI-NA Legislative Affairs Department sent out a survey in late December asking respondents to rank a laundry list of proposals for the next FAA reauthorization bill. Some of the top priorities according to the survey include: 1) funding and budget protections for AIP; 2) preventing AIP funds from begin drained for security; 3) AIP/PFC flexibility; 4) and funding for the Small Community Air Service Development Pilot Program.

 

Based on those survey results and discussions at recent ACI-NA and AAAE board meetings, the legislative affairs staff drafted a list of priorities for the next FAA reauthorization bill. A copy of that list is attached.

 

On February 25, 2003, ACI-NA President David Plavin discussed those priorities before the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation during a hearing on the next FAA reauthorization bill. In addition to requesting funds for capacity and security, Plavin mentioned the need to provide airports with greater flexibility on how they can use AIP funds and PFCs. A copy of the testimony may be viewed at: http://airportnet.org/depts/federal/testimony/022103faareauth.pdf.

 

On March 6, 2003, ACI-NA President David Plavin, AAAE President Chip Barclay and several officials from airports around the country testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Aviation. During the session, airport officials discussed the need for more capacity, project streamlining and funding to pay for the installation of explosive detection systems behind the ticket counters. Many airport representatives echoed comments made in Plavin and Barclay's statement about the unique challenges that small communities have been facing since the terrorist attacks on September 11. A copy of their testimony may be viewed at: http://airportnet.org/depts/federal/testimony/030303faareauth.pdf.

 

Related Links

The AAAE/ACI-NA Legislative Affairs Department has issued the following Airport Alerts and Hearing Reports regarding the next FAA reauthorization bill:

 

Volume 4, Number 11 - March 12, 2003, Small and Rural Community Air Service

 

Volume 4, Number 10 - March 6, 2003, FAA Reauthorization Bill

 

Volume 9, Number 17 - March 5, 2003, FAA Reauthorization Hearing

 

Volume 4, Number 9 - February 25, 2003, FAA Reauthorization Bill

 

Volume 4, Number 7 - February 13, 2003, FAA Reauthorization Bill

 

Volume 4, Number 5 - February 12, 2003, FAA Reauthorization Bill

 

Volume 8, Number 153 - December 30, 2002, FAA Reauthorization Bill Survey

 

Volume 8, Number 149 - December 16, 2002, FAA Reauthorization Bill Survey

 

A summary of AIR-21 may be viewed at: http://airportnet.org/depts/federal/eryn99/newsummary.pdf.

 


 

 

ACI-NA/AAAE Recommendations for

FAA Reauthorization Bill

 

 

Provide Airports With the Resources They Need to Meet Future Demand

 

       Increase funding for Airport Improvement Program.

 

       Maintain Current Budget Protections.

 

Unleash AIP Funds, PFCs and Airport Bonds

 

       Provide Airports with Flexibility on How They Can Use AIP funds and PFCs.

 

       Streamline the PFC Process.

 

       Protect PFCs that Bankrupt Airlines Owe Airports.

 

       Eliminate Unnecessary and Bureaucratic Competition Plans.

 

       Reclassify Airport Bonds as Governmental.

 

Partner with Airports to Enhance Aviation Security

       Prevent AIP Funds From Being Drained for Security-Related Projects.

 

       Reimburse Airports for New Security Requirements.

 

       Require FAA and TSA to Pay for Space the Agencies Use at Airports.

 

       Allow Airports to Make Decisions About Parking.

       Use New Technology to Enhance Security and Expedite the Processing of Passengers.

 

       Allow Airports to Continue to Control Perimeter Security.

 

       Require TSA to Conduct Regulatory Burden Tests Like Other Federal Agencies.

 

       Reimburse Airlines for New Security Costs.

 

Improve Air Service to Small Communities

 

       Provide a major increase in funding for the Small Community Air Service Development Pilot Program.

 

       Maintain the Essential Air Service Program.

 

       Invest in the FAA's Contract Tower Program.

 

Prevent Future Delays by Increasing Aviation Capacity

 

       Expedite the review and approval process for runways and other capacity projects.

 

Improve the Relationship between Airports and the Federal Government