Signified challenges for the U.S. aviation industry “loom on the horizon,” Federal Aviation Administrator (FAA) Marion Blakey testified March 28 before the Senate Subcommittee on Aviation. She added that the government must “move quickly to establish a funding mechanism for the FAA that is reliable and efficient.”
The subject of the hearing was the Bush administration’s FY 2007 budget request and the Aviation Trust Fund. A widening gap between forecasted and actual revenues to the Aviation Trust Fund has resulted in greater general fund contributions and a drawing down of the trust fund balance, Blakey reported.
Testimony was also given by Todd Zinser, acting inspector general of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and Gerald Dillingham, director of civil aviation issues at the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
The FAA 2007 budget focuses on maintaining the “status quo and keeping things running,” Zinser said. He noted the $13.7 billion FAA request is $561 million below last year’s appropriation. Under the administration’s proposed budget, funding for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP), which finances infrastructure improvements, would be down 22%—decreasing from $3.5 billion in FY2006 to the requested $2.8 billion for FY2007.
“The increasing cost of FAA’s operations continues to crowd out investments in FAA’s capital and airport accounts,” Zinser said.
The FAA 2007 budget “demonstrates a startling lack of vision,” Committee Co-Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) said. “In fact,” he continued, “the FAA’s budget proposes nearly $1 billion in cuts to the AIP…it cuts the resources specifically designated to help our airports accommodate the rapidly growing demand.”