According to Howe, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) statistics indicate that delays at Boston, for example, are due to air traffic delays. In other words, if the ATC system was improved, the existing concrete around the country could handle more aircraft, and there would be no need to penalize general aviation. 'Any attempt by Boston or any other airport authority in a similar situation is clearly more of a limit on access to airspace than pavement or the facilities of that airport. We believe this is not only inappropriate, it is against the law,' says Howe.
Reform of the FAA seems to find favor with both user and provider: everybody wants reform but nobody has yet decided as tn what - and how much it will cost. Since the early 1970s, the government has been collecting a sales tax on airline tickets and air cargo waybills to finance the air transport system. Unfortunately, the money has been going into the general budget and disappearing. Couple this with the inevitable bureaucracy of a government department and it is not hard to see that FAA reform has been slow in coming.
Speaking recently before the House of Representative on behalf of the airline and aviation coalition, former FAA administrator Najeeb Halaby said: 'The FAA debate has been underway for three years but with more talk than action. We can no longer afford to say that the FAA reform is a nice idea that warrants study.' Instead, says Halaby, the US has to alter its approach to the FAA if it wants to continue to lead the world in aviation and safety.
In his testimony before the House Committee on Public Works and Transportation, Halaby said the most important issue was FAA funding and called for special budgetary treatment including permanent or multi year authorizations and appropriations for the Agency as well as a fixed term for the FAA Administrator.
But this is a presidential election year and despite the fact that Reagen has still some time to go, his administration is looking more and more like a group of individuals who are making arrangements for their future employment. A possible exception which might prove reassuring to the aviation community is Secretary of Transportation James Burnley.
Yet neither the user nor provider of air transport services can afford to wait much longer. But as deregulation tries to shovel more commercial and general aviation aircraft through an antiquated system, it is inevitable that airports will squeeze out the 'little guy' as American Airlines' President Robert Crandall describes the private flyer. 'We should have room for both,' adds Crandall who is a strong advocate for FAA change.