Omnibus Draws Industry Praise for Increased FAA funding

Industry leaders are praising passage of the $18 billion Federal Aviation Administration budget in Fiscal Year 2018, saying the increased level will provide important funding for aviation priorities. The House recently approved the government-wide omnibus funding bill 256-167; the Senate then voted its approval, 65-32. Congress had until the end of Friday to pass the comprehensive bill in order to avert another government shutdown.

The bill provided more than a $1.5 billion boost to the FAA’s budget for FY2018. It alsoextended the FAA’s authorization six more months, to September 30. Congress opted for the extension to provide time to hash out differences on long-term FAA reauthorization legislation.

While the long-term bill is anticipated to address numerous key aviation issues, the omnibus also dealt with other issues important to the aviation industry, from Part 135 data to organization delegation authorization (ODA).

National Air Transportation Association president Martin Hiller lauded the bill for “recognizing the growing needs of the aviation industry…The additional funding will allow for continued NextGen investment and modernization of our nation’s air traffic control system as well as added certainty for the aviation industry.”

Hiller also noted other NATA-backed language in the omnibus to streamline the certification process for maintenance facilities, update the Part 135 study, assess safety trends in on-demand charter operations, and complete the FAA’s Regulatory Consistency committee’s top recommendation to eliminate outdated or conflicting policies within an electronic guidance library.

“NATA is appreciative to congressional appropriators for their ongoing commitment to general aviation by including these important provisions that continue to make the FAA an effective safety partner with the general aviation community,” Hiller said.

GAMA president and CEO Pete Bunce also expressed appreciation for the “strong support shown by Congress in this omnibus measure for general aviation, especially in the critical areas of safety, certification, NextGen, and the transition to an unleaded aviation gas.”

GAMA noted that Congress set aside $1.3 billion for aviation safety, up from the administration's request of $1.2 billion and marking a $239 million increase from Fiscal Year 2017. In addition the Piston Aviation Fuels initiative received $7 million, $1 million more than the administration's request, and other language is designed to ensure that the FAA more fully uses the ODA program while encouraging more effective government oversight.

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“The ODA language is a significant down payment on certification and regulatory reform, but we need a long-term comprehensive FAA reauthorization to fully reform the certification process, help unleash innovation and new technologies into the marketplace, and focus FAA on international engagement with other aviation authorities to improve safety and facilitate commerce,” Bunce added.

Other leaders praised the stability the funding will provide. “The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 appropriately funds key FAA programs that help the United States improve efficiency while maintaining unparalleled aviation safety,” said David Silver, vice president of civil aviation for the Aerospace Industries Association. “Predictable and stable FAA funding is necessary for the U.S. to introduce game-changing new aerospace technologies such as unmanned aircraft systems and supersonic civil aircraft safely.”