Congress has begun hashing out the final act in the most recent FAA funding battle. Bills in the House and the Senate are scheduled for votes and the differing measures could proceed to a joint House-Senate conference committee for final resolution later this fall. Some Capitol Hill observers expect that a conference agreement could be reached before the end of this month.
The House Ways and Means Committee today passed H.R.3539, a tax code modification companion bill to H.R.2881, the House FAA reauthorization legislation. In a victory for general aviation groups, the committee voted to keep airline taxes, including the airline fuel tax, at existing levels. Under the legislation, avgas taxes would increase from 19.3 to 24.1 cents per gallon and the jet-A tax would rise from 21.8 to 35.9 cents per gallon.
The Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF) of Taiwan recently displayed during public days at several ROCAF bases a new configuration of its Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF), with three 250-pound bombs on the centreline. Taiwan wants to upgrade the ROCAF to meet a growing military threat from mainland China, but progress has been slow.
AIN has learned that the first two Eurofighter Typhoons for the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) are now on the final assembly line at BAE Systems’ Warton, UK factory, although the potential $40 billion deal to supply and support 72 Typhoons has not yet been formally announced.
The UK government is leading a diplomatic effort to craft an international Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), but has reassured the defense industry that “responsible” exports will not be limited by the proposed worldwide pact. John Duncan, the British Ambassador for Multilateral Arms Control, met industrialists at a defense exhibition in London last week.
Mark Wilson, chief executive of the British Business and General Aviation Association (BBGA), plans to leave the organization in mid-October to take a new position as director of regulatory affairs with NetJets Europe. Wilson joined the General Aviation Manufacturers and Traders Association in 2003 and led its merger with the UK’s Business Aircraft Users Association to create BBGA.
Government officials continue to shine a spotlight on general aviation security. Testifying last week before the House Committee on Homeland Security, DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff said his department would soon unveil a plan to tighten security standards for general aviation aircraft (read: business airplanes) entering the country from overseas.
The Russian government has halved the import tax on larger business jets from 20 to 10 percent, according to the country’s Ministry of Economic Development and Trade. This reduction initially will apply to aircraft weighing between 15 and 20 metric tons (33,069 to 44,092 pounds), though Russian officials have indicated they intend to extend the tax break to smaller business aircraft and eventually scrap the import duty altogether.
FAA Administrator Marion Blakey will become president and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) when her term as head of the agency ends September 13. AIA is an Arlington, Va.-based trade association representing the nation’s manufacturers of civil and military aerospace products.
In an unusual display of harmony, leaders of 18 aviation associations signed a letter to President Bush asking that he appoint a new FAA Administrator to the normal five-year term instead of a recess appointment that the Senate might not approve by the end of the next session. “Our nation cannot afford a recess appointee as we face the time-critical challenge of modernizing our nation’s aviation infrastructure,” the letter stated.