2 hurt when small plane crashes near North Carolina coast

Two people were hurt when a small plane crashed near the North Carolina coast.

Ocean Isle Beach Mayor Debbie Smith told local media the single engine plane came down in some woods about 7 p.m. Wednesday shortly after taking off from the local airport.

Smith said the pilot and passenger were able to get out of the plane. They were taken to Grand Strand Regional Medical Center in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Their names have not been released. There was no word on their condition.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating. The FAA said the plane was a Beechcraft Musketeer BE23.

New Aviation Director named for Rowan County Airport

By David Whisenant – wbtv.com

Kevin Davis has been selected for the position of Rowan County Aviation Director.

Approximately 58 applications were received and 7 interviews were conducted to narrow the candidate pool, which resulted in 3 finalists.

The 3 finalists participated in a rigorous written examination followed by a Panel Interview consisting of Directors, Commissioners and the Airport Advisory Board.

County Manager Aaron Church stated, “This is a very important position for Rowan County and we were fortunate to have a large pool of qualified candidates. Kevin rose to the top and we are fortunate to have him join our team.”

Davis has over 3 years of experience working as an Airport Operations Officer for Charlotte Douglas International Airport, the 5th busiest airport in North America.

Davis also served as an Airport Consultant with Newton & Associates, Inc., an aviation industry consulting firm.

Davis is a Career Pilot and earned a Master’s in Business Administration with a concentration in Public Administration from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida and a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. His certificate in Aviation Management was earned at Guilford Technical Community College.

Davis is a member of the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) and a AAAE Certified Employee in Airfield Operations. He is currently enrolled in the AAAE Accredited Airport Executive Program.

Commissioner Craig Pierce stated, “The Airport is at a critical growing state and Kevin has the enthusiasm and education to take us to the next level. Kevin is a true professional, down to earth and very likable. I think the community will benefit for years to come from his expertise.”

Davis, a native of Winston-Salem, is an Eagle Scout and enjoys restoring classic muscle cars, flying aircraft and attending air shows. He recalled that “The Rowan County Airport was the very first place I landed a plane many years ago. This opportunity is a blessing and I look forward to becoming a part of the community while leading the airport.” Davis starts on July 17th and the County will host a reception at the airport for the public to meet Davis in August.

Chairman Greg Edds said, “The airport is a vital part of our community generating over 700 jobs and having an economic impact of almost one hundred million dollars. We are at a critical point and we believe Kevin has the skills necessary to take us to the next level. Kevin is a talented aviation professional who is energetic and eager to make a strong, positive impact at the Rowan County Airport.”

House Votes to Turn Traffic Control System over to the Airlines


While legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives to turn the U.S. air traffic control system over to the airlines was passed by committee June 27, AOPA continued to voice opposition to the legislation that would be detrimental to general aviation.

The Capitol is home to the U.S. Congress and its House and Senate governing bodies, two of the many government agencies that have influence over general aviation. Photo by David Tulis.

The Capitol is home to the U.S. Congress and its House and Senate governing bodies, two of the many government agencies that have influence over general aviation. Photo by David Tulis.

The bill, the 21st Century AIRR Act (H.R. 2997), was approved by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee with a 32-25 vote and will now be considered for a vote on the floor of the House.

The legislation is sponsored by Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.), U.S. Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), Aviation Subcommittee Vice Chair Paul Mitchell (R-Mich.), U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii), and U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.).

In 2016, Shuster proposed a similar bill, which also was approved by the committee but failed to reach the floor of the House.

Shuster said the legislation “puts the American taxpayers, innovation, jobs, and the traveling public before Washington dysfunction.”

AOPA and five other general aviation associations released a joint statement June 21 opposing privatization and the AIRR Act.

Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.), a pilot and the lone Republican who voted against the bill, called it “fundamentally flawed.”

Graves, co-chair of the House General Aviation Caucus, joined Rokita in opposing privatization in 2016 but voted for the AIRR Act.

The legislation did not receive the votes of any Democrats.

AOPA President and CEO Mark Baker said, “American aviation is the envy of the world and general aviation is united in opposition to privatization and what it would do.”

“We support modernization not privatization, and in the next 24 hours we’ll be asking our almost 350,000 members to write their representatives in the House and join us in opposing the AIRR Act,” said Baker.

The Senate also has proposed an FAA funding bill that does not include privatizing air traffic control, and the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee is expected to debate amendments June 29. AOPA has announced support of the Senate FAA legislation.

According to a recent survey, a majority of Americans believe the proposal is a “bad idea.”

Marchmont Plantation Airpark Homes for Sale


Builder Gary Swan’s personal home in Marchmont Airpark with workshop/hangar! Heavily landscaped on 5.3 acres. 114 natural dogwoods! Updated kitchen with corian counters, tile floors, vaulted ceilings, skylights, exposed wood beams. Large finished basement has has two BR,1 BA, built in bar, great room with fireplace. Large deck overlooking above ground pool and private backyard. Walk down to large 48×52 hangar/workshop w/office. 13′ door. 2800′ grass runway. Must be seen to appreciate!



MOTIVATED SELLER. Traditional home on 5.3 acres in gated Marchmont Airpark! Updated kitchen, granite counters, SS appliances, tile backsplash. Hardwoods! Recessed lighting throughout. Large master on main, double trey ceiling. Bath with claw foot tub and large walk in closet. 2nd BR/Office on main with access to full bath. 2nd floor balconies front and back. 3 BR and game room on 2nd floor. Basement suite with bath-private entrance. 2 car side garage. Access to 2800′ runway! BRING OFFERS!!


Call, text, or email “The Flying Realtor”  Len Leggette to view properties !!  336-547-6535  len.leggette@gmail.com

Soar spot: Concord’s airport in need of a makeover

David Brooks – Concord Monitor

Airport manager Dave Rolla talks about operations at the Concord Municipal Airport 

Although it has been a decade since the article was printed, fans of Concord Municipal Airport still wince at the thought of a New Yorker story about Hillary Clinton’s first presidential campaign that described the state’s oldest airport in unflattering terms.

“The terminal at the airport in Concord, New Hampshire, is small and shabby, and filled with seventies-era office furniture,” wrote Ryan Lizza, the magazine’s political writer, in the June 2007 article. “I went with Clinton to a small office; she took a seat behind a metal desk and joked about the ambience of the place. ‘We’ve got the dead bugs in the light fixture,’ she said, laughing and pointing.”

Dave Rolla, the airport’s general manager, sighed heavily when the article was mentioned last week.

“At least three people sent me copies,” he said. “I immediately threw out all the furniture, went home and brought in some couches from my house.”

Carlos Baia, Concord deputy city manager, echoes the painful memories. “It was about the worst advertisement you could have. … Not exactly what the Chamber of Commerce wants to see.”

And yet, both men admit, the story wasn’t fake news then and wouldn’t be fake news today. It was more like an inconvenient truth.

“This was built in 1937. It’s got 1937 wiring in it, it’s got the original windows,” said Rolla, gesturing around the main lobby of the terminal off Airport Road in southeast Concord – where, it must be admitted, dead bugs could be seen inside one of the fluorescent lights. “It’s old. It’s tired.”

And it’s not alone.

The “new” portion of the airport terminal was built in 1961. The adjacent building, home to Hertz rental cars and Concord Aviation Services, was built in the late 1940s, while the adjacent airplane hangar dates to the era of New Hampshire aviation pioneer Robert Fogg. Its curved roof can be seen in photos when Charles Lindbergh Jr. landed in Concord in 1927, and it hasn’t changed much since.

“To my knowledge, it’s the oldest active hanger in the state,” Rolla said. He doesn’t sound like he’s bragging.

Often overlooked

There are several reasons why the city-owned airport isn’t more up to date, one of which might come as a surprise: Even though the 614-acre airport is bigger than Steeplegate Mall and older than the historic city library, plenty of people don’t realize it exists.

“As part of a program, we used to give bus tours of the city. For a number of years I would take people to the airport – this was business people, who were doing business in the community – and it was inevitable, I’d hear people say: ‘I didn’t know this was even here!’ ” Baia said.

Such invisibility reflects the lack of passenger service, which means that unless you have access to a private plane or a company plane, there’s no reason to go there. That reduces any public pressure for upgrades, which wouldn’t come cheap.

“It would take probably $1.5 million to renovate the terminal. If you’re doing that, you might as well spent $2 million and replace it,” Rolla said. “Anybody who’s got an old house in New England can relate – how much money do you sink into it?”

For airports like Concord and 12 others in New Hampshire that are eligible, plenty of funding exists for runway and safety improvements. The usual formula is 90 percent federal money, 5 percent state and 5 percent city, and will apply to upgrades to taxiway A and the apron, which are slated for this year.

But there’s always a fight to get those funds, and the civilian buildings at Concord Airport rarely are eligible.

The terminal may get a lick of paint this year, assuming the city council spends roughly $20,000 earmarked in the budget and can find some donations to help out, but that’s it for the near term.

“It’s tough to develop a business model for a terminal,” admitted Rolla.

National Guard helps

Despite these woes, Concord Municipal Airport is actually better off than many small public airports thanks to the Army National Guard, which moved onto city-owned land at the airport in 2002.

The city anticipates making $351,177 from the airport this year, including the fee paid by the private Concord Aviation Services to manage the airport; leases of hangars and airplane parking spots known as tie-downs; and fuel sales. Two-thirds of that figure, or $224,400, is paid by the National Guard.

As a result, city taxpayers spend nothing to operate the facility. This is unusual for municipal airports, which rarely create enough direct income to cover their expenses.

“It’s no different than the highway system. You don’t expect (highways) to pay for themselves,” said Tricia Lambert, head of the Department of Transportation Bureau of Aeronautics. As with highways and many other government services, the argument is that an airport is worth subsidizing because it generates indirect benefits in business, home values and recreation.

Concord’s happy financial situation may not last. The airport has operated in the red for a number of years – the fiscal year 2018 budget calls for $415,000 in spending and $351,000 in revenue – and is eating into a surplus that was built up during boom times. At the rate things are going, by 2022 the city’s general fund would have to start subsidizing the airport, Baia said.

Many difficulties

On top of a decline in general aviation that is hurting all small airports, Concord faces stiff competition from two nearby airports: Laconia for the casual pilot, especially those coming to the Lakes Region, and Manchester for business pilots.

Laconia Municipal Airport has spiffed up its terminal in recent years, on top of an $8 million runway expansion, and Rolla says it has lured away some private pilots. To the south, the new highway exit to Manchester airport puts it so close that some corporate jets are going there even when bringing clients to Concord.

“The pilots who fly corporate jets – if they have options of where to go, and they figure they’re going to spend six hours waiting while their clients are at a meeting, would they rather be in a facility that’s comfortable, appealing, has wi-fi, or in a facility that’s falling down around them and everything is very, very tired?” Rolla asked.

Similarly, most presidential candidates fly into Manchester these days even when coming to the capital.

Another blow to Concord is NASCAR’s decision to move one of its two annual races away from New Hampshire Motor Speedway next year. Scores of planes fly into Concord and stay there during race weekends, paying for slots and buying fuel. Rolla said the two NASCAR weekends have made up as much as 20 percent of Concord Aviation Services’ annual income.


Baia says Concord is working to raise the airport’s public profile via such things as the Runway 5K, a foot race up and down the runways, during Aviation Day on Oct. 21.

It’s also looking for other sources of revenue, although limitations due to security and Federal Aviation Administration requirements makes that difficult. A driving school used to rent out the closed third runway and use it to teach extreme maneuvers, but the FAA nixed that idea because it isn’t aviation-related.

Much of the airport’s land cannot be developed because it is home to the extremely rare Karner Blue butterfly, the state’s official butterfly. Concord is planting lupins and otherwise prepping vacant city-owned land on Regional Drive, at the airport’s northern boundary, in hopes that they can swap it for some of the existing conservation land, making that land available for development.

“We do have some developable parcels, past where the National Guard is. We need to get better at marketing that,” Baia said.

But those city-owned parcels on Regional Drive are far from the terminal and the entrance, which are on Airport Road, making it hard to peddle them to companies that might pay extra for being able to quickly fly marketing staff to other parts of the country. “Frontage along Airport Road would be better for us, from a marketing standpoint,” admits Baia.

As for Rolla, the main thing he’d like to see is an expansion of the main runway, which is known as 17/35 because pilots are facing either 170 degrees or 350 degrees when they land, depending on which end is used based on the direction of the wind. It’s 6,000 feet long, much bigger than the 3,200 feet of the secondary runway known as 12/20, but Rolla would like to see it extended to 7,200 feet, to handle bigger corporate jets.

He points to Hendrick Motorsports, a huge North Carolina firm that used to fly into Concord to supports its race teams at the speedway.

In 1994, he said, it used 10 different 8-person aircraft. By 2005, as the company grew, it was flying in a trio of 40-passenger turboprops. Then in 2013, it switched to a couple of larger Canadair regional jets to cut costs. Those jets can safely land on 17/35, but the margin of error is so thin that rainy or icy weather could interfere with operations.

“They had been a customer for 20 years but they said goodbye – nothing you did wrong, but we’re going to Manchester,” Rolla said. “Replacing a big customer like Hendrick is very difficult to do.”

But he remains optimistic, he said. And in the meantime, Rolla had another job: Getting those dead bugs out of the light fixture.


Private Pilot Ground School – Greensboro

  • What: Private Pilot Ground School
  • When: Saturday & Sunday, July 15 and 16, from 8 AM to 5 PM, both days
  • Where: 534 Air Harbor Rd., Greensboro, NC 27455
  • Sign-Off: I provide the endorsement required to take the knowledge test
  • Guarantee:  I guarantee students pass the private pilot knowledge test; if they don’t pass, I work with them one-on-one until they do pass, Or they can take one of my future private pilot ground schools at no charge
  • Items to Bring: An E6B, a plotter, pocket calculator, and something to write with.  I have E6Bs and plotters available for sale at my cost of $11.00 for E6Bs and $11.00 for rotating plotters (or $22.00 total for both).
  • Extras: Doughnuts and coffee for breakfast, ham sandwiches for lunch, and we also have soft drinks and water
  • Cost: $300.00 Cash or Check, with checks payable to Zenda Liess; fee is collected first morning before class. Sorry, I don’t do credit cards!
  • To Register: Call or e-mail (see contact information below)

Zenda Liess
534 Air Harbor Rd.
Greensboro, NC 27455
Home: 336 286-5218
Cell: 336 324-9595

Manager of Stanly County Airport Retires

After more than 32 years at the controls of the Stanly County Airport, Manager David Griffin announced his final approach on the job.

At the end of next week Griffin, 69, will conclude more than three decades as airport manager and officially retire. He’ll be remembered as the accidental airport manager who with no relative experience piloted Stanly County into aviational significance, making it one of the most unique airports in the U.S.

“I had no qualifications to be an airport manager,” Griffin admitted. “I was a licensed pilot — that was it. That was not an asset — doesn’t give you an advantage.”

Griffin said as much to Carlton “Buddy” Holt, then mayor of Albemarle, who called on Griffin to forgo an impending move to Florida. Holt wanted Griffin to stay in Stanly and take over as airport manager.

“Buddy, I don’t know a darn thing about running an airport,” Griffin recalled. “Buddy laughed and said ‘that’s OK. If I remember correctly you didn’t know anything about the health department either.'”

Holt was referring to Griffin’s circuitous journey in environmental health, which followed an early job in the grocery business. The first of those 12 years in environmental health began in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, then Stanly before leaving for Anson County, where he was raised.

Griffin had just negotiated an offer to move to Florida as an environmental health manager when Holt intervened.

At that time Stanly County enjoyed a bustling economic climate, primarily due to textiles. Company executives then relied on the county’s airport, which had a runway of 4,400-feet-long, 75-feet wide.

Once on the job, Griffin sought airport expansion. He wanted a longer runway of at least 5,000 feet and an instrumental landing system.

First, however, he had to secure funding with the latter costing about $2.5 million during the mid 80s.

“I’m not the smartest guy in the world, but I do know how to read,” Griffin said as he boned up on how to obtain grants from the Aviation Trust Fund, which held about $22 billion for various airport projects across the U.S.

Repeated attempts, however, led to the countless rejections by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“Back then a lot of aviation money was coming into North Carolina, but not Stanly County,” Griffin said.

Griffin noticed the small town of Wilkesboro seemed to be getting more than its fair share of aviational funding, primarily because of influential corporations like Holly Farms.

“One of the last excuses given to me was that we didn’t have the support of the community, Griffin said of the FAA’s explanations. “I thought that’s a pretty feeble excuse.”

Next Griffin gathered all the county’s corporate executives and other stakeholders together along with a slideshow of an active Stanly airport for FAA leaders to see. Although they were impressed with Griffin’s efforts, funding rejections fcontinued.

FAA representatives explained there simply wasn’t enough money to share with Stanly, Griffin recalled.

“I’m an old country boy from Anson County and my math is simple, but I knew there was enough money,” Griffin said.

Then one day while Griffin was griping about the elusive funds of the FAA and its seemingly unfair politics, a bystander overheard him and suggested he call the 145th tactical airlift of the Air National Guard (ANG) in Charlotte. The gentleman advised Griffin that each of them had a problem that could bear mutually-rewarding solutions.

As it turned out, the ANG unit struggled to find airports suitable for necessary training. The airports had to be able to accommodate the ANG’s C-130 airplanes. As Charlotte Douglas International Airport continued to grow, commercial airlines demanded more space, which squeezed the ANG, Griffin explained.

Forced to travel to other airports in convoys of loaded equipment, the ANG sometimes found themselves bumped for other military training.

“It didn’t happen all the time. But, it happened often enough the crew couldn’t maintain their efficiency,” Griffin said.

It seemed the ANG was getting repeatedly denied training opportunities as Stanly rejected for funding.

“We had a lot of things in common,” Griffin added.

In 1989, the Stanly County Airport struck a deal with the ANG providing the 145th tactical airlift unit with a guaranteed venue for training. In exchange, the ANG ensured the Stanly airport would get the upgrades sought, and needed for the heavier C-130s.

Consequently, military funding poured into the airport.

Stanly got its runway lengthened to 5,500 feet and widened to 100 feet. It also obtained the coveted instrumental landing system as well as an aviational weather monitoring system.

Over a 20-year period, some $60 million poured into the county airport. ANG pumped in $40 million. Even the FAA tried to reclaim relevance by tossing in $15 million. The state and local government pitched in the rest.

Since then the relationship with the ANG has benefitted the airport with a radar system, control tower and two parallel runways.

Per the ANG, a fire department is provided to the airport, which also responds to nearby calls off airport property.

“It was a windfall for Stanly County Airport,” Griffin said.

The relationship has also served the ANG as the group has made the airport their home way from home.

Col. Troy Gerock, Commander of the 145th Airlift Wing, called the arrangement “invaluable.”

“Within 20 minutes we can go over there and engage in two hours of training,” Gerock said.

He also acknowledges that all of that is possible because of Griffin.

“He has opened up the airport to us,” Gerock said. “I can’t think of anybody easier to work with.”

Because of all the upgrades and its arrangement with the ANG, the airport generates an economic impact of $100 million annually, Griffin said of an economic impact study.

County Manager Andy Lucas recognizes economic benefits of the airport’s deal with the ANG.

“The partnership with the ANG is the life blood of our general aviation airport,” Lucas said. “The ANG’s economic impact on Stanly County is significant. The ANG staff and visitors frequent our restaurants and hotels generating sales tax and tourism tax revenue. Further, the ANG’s facilities provide a training ground for visiting troops from other areas of the U.S. and other countries. When these troops come to the base for training they typically frequent many of our retail establishments.”

He also understands Griffin’s hand in the relationship with the ANG.

“David’s interpersonal skills, knowledge of airport operations and outstanding relationship with the various ANG personnel have served him well over the years,” Lucas added.

Like most enterprise funds, including airports, they’re always necessary and typically cost more than they earn. Stanly’s airport, however, fares better than most.

Stanly typically appropriates around $300,000 annually for the airport, but it actually costs roughly one-third of the sum.

“The remaining funds come from fuel sales, State grants, hangar and office space lease revenue,” Lucas said.

Roughly 45 airplanes are housed at the county’s airport in hangars, generating property taxes for Stanly’s coffers. There’s a waiting list for others to house their planes, too.

While Griffin might have lacked airport management experience, his self-professed stubborn streak equipped him to never quit on securing the funds to advance the airport. Add his good ol’ country boy, laid-back personality and he became the ideal leader for the job.

“He leads us with direction and then lets us go,” said Becky Broadway, airport operations specialist. “He’s never been one to look over our shoulder or micro-manage.”

Gerock said Griffin’s is personable and direct, void of any “double speak” or “political correctness” that sometimes gets in the way of effective communication.

“We find him to be very down-to-earth,” Gerock said. “I’ve never seen him frustrated. He tells you like it is.”

Stanly’s airport, along with its near 1,000 acres, is poised for new growth. As the military looks to retire the workhorse C-130 for the newer C-17, there will be a need for additional upgrades since it carries a heavier load. The runway will be required to convert to concrete instead of asphalt at that time, Griffin said.

A new manager, preferably with military experience, is expected to be named in the coming weeks with Griffin lending a hand with his replacement’s transition.

Mostly, Griffin plans to spend more time with his family and turkey hunting.

First Diamond DA62 in U.S. with Garmin G1000 NXi Delivered in the NC

Diamond Aircraft has delivered the first DA62 diesel twin with the new Garmin G1000 NXi avionics system to a U.S. customer.

LifeStyle Aviation, a Diamond dealer on the East Coast, announced the delivery to North Carolina businessman Mike Case, who said he decided to move up from older general aviation airplanes he’s owned to the latest diesel engine and Garmin avionics technology in the DA62.

“I wanted something that was more technologically advanced, like with the G1000 in a new computer designed airplane as opposed to legacy airplanes,” Case said.

G1000 NXi, which is quickly becoming the standard in new GA airplanes, features much faster processors, crisper displays and extra capabilities compared with the original version of G1000. In the DA62, the avionics system features a unique keyboard integration that places it between the pilots on a pedestal.

“The new Garmin NXi represents next generation avionics capabilities that pilots have been asking for,” said John Armstrong, CEO of LifeStyle Aviation. “We are thrilled to bring this state-of-the-art technology to market, and since all new Diamond aircraft will be produced with the NXi panel going forward, we look forward to helping our clients discover the advantages of these exciting advancements.”

Introduced last year, the DA62 is powered by twin Austro compression ignition engines that burn jet-A and are controlled by fadec.

It’s not a bird, it’s not Superman. It’s a Navion plane

By Alyssa Pressler
Gazette staff

If you’ve driven by the Gastonia Municipal Airport in the last few days, you’ve probably seen some pretty neat, smaller looking planes that aren’t usually there.

The 56th Annual Fly-In of the American Navion Society is taking place in Gastonia this week, which means Navion plane collectors from all over the world flew to the airport Sunday to spend some time in the local area, according to a press release from the city of Gastonia.

Here are the details:

    • Navions are smaller U.S. planes with single-engines and four seats. They were originally built by North American Aviation in the 1940s.
    • This week, pilots from 18 states and several foreign countries are attending the convention, which started Sunday, June 18 and will end Friday, June 23.
    • The convention will have seminars on historical aircraft and will hold contests for the different pilots testing things like speed and efficiency.
  • This is the first time the convention is being held in North Carolina since it was held in Southport in 2007.

Democrats introduce legislation to stabilize FAA funding

General Aviation News

Democrats are rejecting President Trump’s plans to privatize America’s air traffic control system, instead introducing legislation to stabilize FAA funding.

Rep. Rick Larsen (Washington), the top-ranking Democrat on the House Aviation Subcommittee, joined by Rep. Peter DeFazio (Oregon) and other Democrats on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, introduced H.R. 2800, the Aviation Funding Stability Act of 2017, on June 7, 2017.

The proposed legislation aims to strengthen and speed up the reforms taking place at the FAA and its air traffic control system through the NextGen initiative.

“This bill meaningfully complements NextGen’s progress,” said Larsen. “By providing certainty to the FAA’s funding streams and boosting reforms to the FAA’s personnel and procurement systems, this bill presents an opportunity to accelerate modernization of the FAA, which is something I think folks on both sides of the aisle can get behind.”

“If we truly want to fix the real problems facing the FAA today, the solution is simple: Congress can and should pass targeted reforms. Today, Democrats on the Transportation Committee offered targeted measures that guarantee that investments in our aviation system are not subject to Congressional dysfunction,” said DeFazio. “Our alternative provides a stable, predictable funding stream for aviation programs; directs the FAA to run modernization programs using streamlined best practices; requires the FAA to reform its personnel system; gives users a bigger role in managing the aviation system through the FAA’s Management Advisory Council; and authorizes funding to rebuild and modernize aging air traffic control facilities. Targeted reforms can achieve our common objectives without jeopardizing our nation’s outstanding aviation safety record. I urge my Republican colleagues to reject ATC privatization, and support our proposal for real, achievable modernization and reform.”

The Aviation Funding Stability Act of 2017 would help ensure investments in the U.S. aviation system are not subject to Congressional dysfunction and would streamline the acquisition of NextGen technology, equipment certification, and ATC management, lawmakers noted.

Key provisions include:

  • Provide the FAA with mandatory spending authority in order to maintain stable, predictable FAA funding.
  • Ensure that revenues collected from flying passengers (i.e. ticket taxes) are invested in the aviation system. Beginning Oct. 1, Trust Fund revenues and uncommitted cash balance are immediately available to be invested in the aviation system. These funds are not subject to appropriation, budget sequestration, or any directive of the Office of Management and Budget – the funds are off budget. In addition, the bill authorizes such sums as necessary from the General Fund for FAA Operations to address any possible shortfall in Trust Fund revenues, and it exempts any General Fund share from sequestration.
  • Require top-to-bottom reforms of the FAA’s personnel and procurement systems. In 1995 and 1996, Congress exempted the FAA from government-wide personnel and procurement rules. But the Department of Transportation Inspector General has often reported that the FAA has not taken full advantage of these reforms, leading to delays and cost overruns in modernization programs and low workforce productivity. The bill requires the FAA to develop a streamlined procurement system that is up to the task of governing high-tech, high-value acquisitions in NextGen technology. It also requires the FAA to update its personnel management system to provide incentives for good performance, among other things. With these reforms, the FAA will be able to institute personnel and procurement reform.
  • Elevate the role of the FAA Management Advisory Council (MAC), a government-industry panel that advises the FAA administrator on strategic issues facing the FAA. The bill requires the administrator to respond in writing to each recommendation of the MAC with respect to management of the air traffic control system within 90 days of receipt. If the administrator disagrees with the recommendation, the administrator must explain his or her rationale. If the administrator agrees with the recommendation, the response must include a timeline for implementation.
  • Removes bureaucratic barriers within the FAA. The bill directs the agency to cross-utilize staff across disciplines wherever feasible and to break down internal silos so employees can freely share ideas, and so that offices can better collaborate and coordinate with one another in managing complex tasks like certifying new airliner designs and running the air traffic control system.
  • Authorize funds to rebuild and modernize aging air traffic control facilities across the United States. The bill authorizes the FAA to use the uncommitted balance of the Airport and Airway Trust Fund to rebuild, modernize, and sustain air traffic control facilities.

President Trump recently announced a plan that would privatize ATC, leave the FAA’s critical safety oversight processes without a funding source, and jeopardize aviation safety by subjecting the remaining FAA to Congressional shutdowns, budget cuts, and sequestration.

Under the Trump plan, a private corporation would have the power to tax the flying public to pay for the ATC system without Congressional oversight or judicial review. The Trump plan severely limits current public participation requirements regarding aircraft noise when adjusting airspace routes over homes across the United States, Democratic lawmakers say.