A Brief Overview of Vision 100 ? Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act

After months of Congressional wrangling, President Bush signed Vision 100-Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act into law on December 13, 2003. This Act was also known as the FAA Reauthorization Bill. It is designed to strengthen America?s aviation sector, provide needed authority to the FAA, and enhance the safety of the traveling public. Both the House and Senate thought they had reached agreement on the FAA Reauthorization Bill when they left for summer recess in August. But the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) launched an expensive campaign against the measure, warning that the Bill?s provision to allow the FAA to contract out 69 VFR control towers could lead to privatization of the entire ATC system. The issue was finally resolved when the FAA promised not to outsource any jobs now performed by FAA employees for the rest of the fiscal year (until September 30, 2004).

The provisions in Vision 100-Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act that I believe most positively affect California?s general aviation airports include the following:

  • Increased funding for the FAA Airport Improvement Program (AIP), the major source of funding for airport development and planning, to an overall total of $14.2 billion through FY 2007. The Airport Improvement Program will be funded at $3.4 billion in FY 2004, thereafter increasing $100 million annually through FY 2007, at which point the annual allocation will reach $3.7 billion.
  • Maintains current budget protections that make it difficult for Congress to appropriate less than the amount authorized for the Airport Improvement Program.
  • Reduces the Airport Improvement Program local matching share from 10 percent to 5 percent. Before passage of Vision 100-Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act, the Airport Improvement Program funded 90% of the cost of an airport project; with passage of the Act, the Airport Improvement Program will fund 95% of its cost. Given the reduction in funding of California?s Airport Grant programs and the budget crisis that many local communities currently face, the decrease in the local matching share required for cities and counties to secure AIP grants is a welcome change.
  • Allows general aviation airports to use their Airport Improvement Program entitlement funds to pay for fuel farms and hangars if adequate provisions have been made for financing airport development projects.
  • Allows airports to waive their Airport Improvement Program entitlement funds if the FAA agrees to make the waived amount available for another airport in the state or geographical area. Previous to this legislation, unspent AIP entitlement funds could be allocated to airports in other states. With the passage of Vision 100-Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act, unspent AIP entitlement funds will be re-allocated to other California airports.
  • The provision in Vision 100-Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act that I believe most benefits California?s pilots and pilots throughout the nation is the one that provides U.S. citizens affected by the FAA/TSA airman revocation results with a hearing before an administrative law judge whose decision can be appealed to the Transportation Security Oversight Board. This provision allows a U.S. citizen, whose airman certificate has been revoked or denied on the grounds of security, an appropriate due process.

    It is important to note that this overview doesn?t even begin to address the far-reaching impact of Vision 100-Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act, which includes provisions on FAA reform, the environmental process, airline service improvements, aviation safety, aviation security, aviation research, etc. My intent in this article was to discuss the provisions that most affect California?s airports and pilots and to convey the message that the passage of the Act will further CPA?s mission to preserve California?s airports.

    by Colleen Turner who was recently elected to the position of CPA Secretary. She is an Airport Grant Consultant with Ford, Turner & Associates and is a private, instrument-rated pilot who has been flying for 16 years. Colleen can be reached at turner@airportgrants.com.