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"Shuster Unveils New ATC Proposal with Fee Exemptions"
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Shuster Unveils New ATC Proposal with Fee Exemptions
By Kerry Lynch
Aviation International News
The U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee today unveiled
a new air traffic control (ATC) reform proposal that would carve the
organization out of the FAA, but attempts to assuage concerns of business and
general aviation and rural organizations by exempting Part 91 and 135 from new
user fees and including access protections.
The proposal is included in a comprehensive six-year FAA reauthorization
bill-the 21st Century Aviation Innovation, Reform and Reauthorization Act-that
also will address key issues such as the FAA's certification process, unmanned
aircraft systems, safety and consumer issues.
T&I chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pennsylvania) detailed the bill during a gathering
with reporters today, saying, "It's time to put the American people ahead of
Washington bureaucracy. It is about saving the taxpayers money. For too many
years we've put money into the FAA to develop new technology and got very
little back. It's about creating American jobs, it's about unleashing
innovation and it's about putting the traveling public ahead of the dysfunction
here in Washington, D.C."
Shuster added that the reauthorization package "improves upon the bill we put
forth in the last Congress," and said the new version has picked up support
from House appropriators, captured interest of Democrats and received critical
backing of General Aviation Caucus co-chair Sam Graves (R-Missouri). It also
has support from House leaders and the White House. The changes are the
culmination of more than 150 meetings and six hearings, he added.
The ATC reform proposal is largely based on the proposal that faltered in the
House last year. But the changes in this year's bill represent a series of
compromises designed to reach some of the most vocal critics. This year's
proposal is similar to last year's in that the new ATC organization would be
run by the board, but Shuster said the board would have more transparency. The
makeup of the 13-member board would be different, with one seat each to be
given to people nominated by Part 121 carriers, cargo carriers, regional
carriers, airports, business aviation and general aviation, along with the air
traffic controllers and pilot unions. The Department of Transportation would
get to appoint two members. Two "at large" seats will be set aside, ostensibly
for people with financial backgrounds. The board would be led by a CEO.
As for the fee structure, Part 91 and 135 operators would pay the existing
excise taxes to support the remaining FAA functions and the Airport Improvement
Program. Last year's proposal had exemptions for general aviation but would
have assessed the user fees on the Part 135 community. Also believed to remain
intact are the $4.10 per-segment passenger fee and international overflight
fees, among other taxes. Shuster said these taxes would be hashed out with the
House Ways and Means Committee.
The airline ticket tax, however, would transition to a user-fee system for Part
121 carriers to fund the new organization. A two-thirds super majority vote of
the board will be required to raise the airline user fees.
The proposal also includes language guaranteeing access for small operators and
to small communities and establishes a three-part oversight process. Shuster
emphasized that he represents a rural district and wants to protect his
constituents. He also noted opportunities in the future with the emergence of
Shuster plans to bring the bill up for committee review on June 27 and hopes to
have it receive full consideration on the House floor in mid-July. He concedes
that he has not yet received input from general aviation groups on the bill.
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