Al Marsh

Next big thing

May 14, 2008 by Alton K. Marsh, Senior Editor, AOPA Pilot

You can bet that user fees are still topic number one for general aviation pilots. It would seem the strategy of those who favor them is to wait until we fall asleep, or go home, and then sneak them into a bill while no one is looking–if it takes three years. That won’t happen. But now there is another issue coming into view.

This week I attended a backgrounder session in a hangar at Dulles International Airport by groups eager to get the FAA to accelerate next-generation air traffic control systems. These were the new air taxi operators, many of them using Eclipse 500 jets or Cessna Caravans, that want to prove their new cockpit technology can keep them out of the way of traditional airline routes. AOPA has monitored next generation technology for years and will keep you up on the latest. As for the session at Dulles, attended by AOPA but not sponsored by AOPA, there were mixed results. Apart from trying to hear air taxi industry speakers in a noisy hangar, there seemed to be few influential congressional staffers present–the real target of the session.

Expect to hear from top officials in California and Florida soon in support of the FAA speeding work on next-generation systems.

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