Last year’s slump in commercial aircraft sales and employment was not as sharp as predicted and not nearly as deep as the industry experienced 10 years ago. That’s the assessment of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), which also sees a recovery for civil aviation between next year and 2006, along with a concurrent upswing for aerospace employment.
The chairman of the Aviation Safety Foundation Australia, a private-sector organization, expressed “grave concern” over the sustainability of general aviation in the country. Addressing a recent aviation conference in Australia, John Sharp said the federal government is not doing enough to foster the growth of GA. “Wherever you look, general aviation is in decline,” he asserted.
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) last month adopted proposed changes to its rules governing the legal rates and timing of travel payments by political candidates, those traveling with candidates and those traveling on behalf of candidates in connection with federal elections on private aircraft, including those operated under Part 91.
The 2004 Omnibus Appropriations Bill passed by the Senate last month failed to include funding for general aviation relief authorized by Vision 100–The Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act. The $100 million relief measure that would compensate general aviation businesses harmed by government action following 9/11 will have to wait until Fiscal Year 2005 for Congressional funding.
Beginning in mid-February, Congress took a couple of weeks off and returned to business in early March. Nevertheless, there has been no slowdown in the introduction of bills and, at press time, there were 1,133 bills introduced in the House and 533 in the Senate. A number of bills that failed to make the grade in the 108th Congress were reintroduced with the expectation that some could be enacted into law this go-around.
At an oversight meeting on the President’s proposed FY2006 budget for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), subcommittee chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) expressed concern about the lack of progress by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and TSA in reopening the airport.
NBAA continued to bolster and realign its senior staff last month, hiring aviation lobbyist Lisa Piccione as its new senior vice president of government affairs and promoting longtime NBAA staffers David Almy and Kathleen Blouin to senior vice presidencies. In addition, the association hired Dan Hubbard as vice president of communications.
• H.R.2115, the “Flight 100-Century of Aviation Revitalization Act” introduced in May by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), was combined with S.824, the “Aviation Investment and Revitalization Act,” introduced in April by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and approved by unanimous consent in the Senate in late November. The bill reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration for four years and provides $59 billion in funding.
Inconsistent and incomplete FAA oversight of its designee programs limits the agency’s ability to ensure designees perform their work according to federal standards, according to a recent study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The GAO said the FAA needs to develop a better mechanism to improve oversight compliance and upgrade its databases to provide complete and consistent information.
Taiwan’s government is expected to lift a long-standing prohibition of private aircraft ownership in the first quarter of next year. Several charter providers that already operate helicopters as permitted under existing rules have indicated, off the record, that they are now making plans to buy business jets later this year.