By Paul Lowe
February 10, 2011
Despite efforts to reduce federal government spending to 2008 levels, general aviation groups told Congress yesterday it is critical that the next FAA reauthorization bill provide sufficient funding for FAA programs designed to advance the NextGen air traffic management system. They said lawmakers must find ways to provide financial incentives for both commercial and general aviation operators to equip their aircraft with NextGen technology earlier than the current federal mandates. According to the GA alphabet groups, the range of financial incentives must be flexible enough to match the different capabilities and technologies involved. This could include public-private partnerships, possibly operating with a Federal Infrastructure Bank, with the private sector loaning funds for both equipment purchases and leases at highly discounted rates under the protection of a federal loan guarantee. But they warned that the FAA must hold up its end of the bargain by fielding equipment and procedures necessary to take advantage of new technologies. The inability of the FAA to deliver these crucial elements in the past has resulted in aircraft operators spending money on equipment only to be told by the FAA that they cannot use it, they noted.