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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Budget Proposal Cuts NextGen, Delays Certifications

Woodrow Bellamy III 

[Avionics Today March 5, 2014] President Barack Obama's 2015 proposed budget received criticism from the aviation community, as the proposal would cut funding for NextGen, delays aircraft and avionics certifications, and impose a $100 per flight user fee on commercial and business aviation operations. 
 
The FAA's budget request includes $836 million in base NextGen funding, which is $65 million less than 2014's $901 million request. As the program enters critical years of implementation, aviation industry experts believe the cut would greatly impact the modernization of the U.S. Air Traffic (AT) system. 
 
"A $65 million cut to the NextGen program’s funding from the current fiscal year poses new obstacles to meeting program milestones in the next several years, leading up to the 2018 mid-term objectives outlined by FAA leadership," said Marion Blakey, president and CEO of Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), in reaction to the president's fiscal year 2015 budget request.
 
Just last week, the Department of Transportation's Inspector General's office released a report indicating the FAA is behind on its scheduled NextGen implementation and is facing some critical decisions in the program.  
 
The budget request would also include a 25 percent reduction in funding for environmental research and development of metrics to demonstrate the benefits of NextGen technologies to airspace users. 
 
Pete Bunce, president and CEO of the General Aviation Manufacturer's Association (GAMA) was also critical of the budget's impact on the FAA's ability to certify new technologies. The agency is already facing a large certification backlog, and with the integration of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) increasing, the budget cut will have a major impact on certification wait times if approved by lawmakers. 
 
Bunce and National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) President and CEO Ed Bolen were also critical of the proposed $100 per flight user fee included in the latest budget proposal in statements released Tuesday. 
 
"We are extremely disappointed that the president’s budget threatens to throw down obstacles to recovery by seeking to impose a $100 per flight user fee," said Bunce. 
 

"The administration’s decision to increase the depreciation period for General Aviation (GA) aircraft is also very disheartening. We have always been open to being part of a larger look at depreciation for capital investments, but do not believe the General Aviation industry should be singled out." 

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