Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Another View: Federal Aviation Administration air traffic control system worth keeping

Doug Winston


By Doug Winston

Douglas S. Winston is a retired petroleum engineer and has been an instrument rated commercial pilot for 33 years. He has a perfect safety record thanks to Federal Aviation Administration air traffic controllers who, he says, "have saved my bacon on more than one occasion."


Michael Turnipseed's Viewpoints column blaming the FAA and the air traffic control system for airline delays is simply wrong ("Let’s bring air traffic control system into 21st century,” Sept. 25). He is using talking points taken directly from the airlines themselves, which are trying to gain control of the air traffic control system using a private non-profit business concept to their advantage and the detriment of general aviation and rural America.

This would be like having the largest trucking companies control the national highway system. Do you think automobile drivers would benefit from that?

As for his comment that other countries are far ahead, also wrong.

The U.S. air traffic control system is a model for the world. It is the largest, most modern, safest system. Most airline delays occur primarily due to weather and the airlines themselves. Specifically, airline scheduling practices and lack of airport capacity. I challenge Turnipseed to fly with me into Los Angeles airspace and experience firsthand how the ATC system works. He will quickly see that big city airports are forced to capacity. You can’t make things go any faster than they already are at these locations because you simply can’t safely make aircraft fly closer together at these locations.

How many times have you been forced to wait on the tarmac because there’s a plane at your gate? Turnipseed mentions old fashioned 1940s radar. Well, today's radar is not your grandad’s radar. We’ve had altitude encoding for decades now, so aircraft are seen in three dimensions as well as their identity, type, ground speed and direction of flight. Conflicts due to converging aircraft sound alarms to prevent mid-air collisions.

Turnipseed also mentions superior ATC in other countries that don’t use radar. The problem is there are none. Radar is used in Europe, Asia and every other developed country. We also have ground radar at busy airports like LAX. Turnipseed does not mention that in addition to horrendous fuel taxes in Europe, they also charge fees for services (landing, flight service, ATC and many more) which creates a humongous bureaucracy and the reason general aviation in Europe is tiny and horribly expensive when compared to the U.S.

ATC is only one division of many in the FAA which is a part of the Department of Transportation. Some hard numbers straight from the FAA:

• Some 5,000 aircraft in the sky at any given time.

• 43,864 flights per day were handled by FAA in 2016; that's over 16 million flights for the year.

• 39.9 billion pounds of freight were flown in 2016

• Aviation contributes 5.1 percent to the U. S. GDP; aviation jobs create over $446 Billion in annual earnings.

In other words, ATC makes us one heck of a lot of money and operates many moving parts that keep us safe in the air. ATC can be and is funded by jet fuel and avgas taxes. Congress needs to remove it from the federal sequestration requirements and let it stand on its own, giving ATC a stable funding source.

There is innovation and modern technology on a huge scale here as well. By January 2020, a major part of NextGen will be fully implemented, removing radar as the primary aircraft location and separation technology. It eliminates radar blind spots (mountains, etc.), updates many times per second instead of every sweep of a radar beam and is more accurate.

My own little Cessna will have this technology installed by then to fly in complex airspace. I choose to wait until the last minute to do so because it's going to cost me $3,000 to $4,000. Those paper strips that are used by ATC are preferred by the controllers; that's the reason they are still used. Not because better technology doesn’t exist.

Don’t get me wrong: I am a small government advocate and the FAA is far from perfect, but the FAA is improving its practices and NextGen is awesome. With all due respect, Turnipseed is creating a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist because he doesn’t know the facts and has never experienced the system.

Throwing out one of the most successful government systems would cost tens of billions more and create another too big to fail private entity. Ever hear of Amtrak and the USPS? If you are happy with those government non-profits (and I use that term because they do nothing but lose the taxpayer’s money), then you’ll love privatized air traffic control.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.bakersfield.com


Michael Turnipseed


Let’s bring our air traffic control system into the 21st century

BY MICHAEL TURNIPSEED

Michael Turnipseed is executive director of KernTax.

America pioneered aviation. Since the Wright Brothers first flew at Kitty Hawk, we have led the world in air travel. But, like most great American innovations, the passing decades have added bureaucratic morass and unnecessary costs that stifle productivity, burden the taxpayers and threaten our leadership in the world.

So it’s time to shake off the rust and modernize our country’s aviation system. Fortunately, Congress has the power to act now, but it needs to act quickly to turn things around.

The current system under the Federal Aviation Administration isn’t working.

Representing taxpayers here in Kern County, we should be concerned that despite spending billions of taxpayer dollars to try modernizing our country’s air traffic control system over the last 30 years, the system still depends on 1940s-era radar technology, while other countries are springing ahead with better systems at a fraction of the cost.

It gets worse: After billions in taxpayer spending, our air traffic controllers are still managing the movement of planes by manually passing paper strips from controller to controller.

We believe it is important to ensure every taxpayer in Kern County knows there is legislation that our congressional members can vote to support that will save taxpayer dollars and reduce the continual air travel delays.

Government agencies, watchdog groups and aviation experts have documented for years the FAA’s chronic inability to improve its air traffic systems. But it’s not for lack of spending. In 2009, the FAA unveiled its behemoth modernization campaign called “NextGen,” which proposes ongoing spending projects through the year 2025. So far, these “NextGen” projects have cost well more than $7 billion, without realizing any benefits for taxpayers or travelers.

Many of us have experienced the frustration when we drive down to Burbank or LAX: You arrive at the airport on time for your flight only to realize it’s been delayed again, and again, and again. And all the while, who takes responsibility for the delays? In fact, LAX has the fourth highest rate in the nation of total arrival delay minutes that is attributed to air traffic. The highest rate is at SFO — San Francisco International.

After spending $7 billion in taxpayers’ money, there is still zero accountability. Today, “NextGen” is widely regarded as simply a marketing ploy to keep Congress funding its failing projects. In fact, the inspector general for the U.S. Department of Transportation recently warned that if the FAA implements the full menu of its proposed “NextGen” projects, it will cost taxpayers as much $120 billion, and it will take an additional decade to complete. And by then, the technology will be obsolete. Our country is not on a forward-moving track when it comes to aviation upgrades.

The problem is a broken governance and financing structure that has changed little since the FAA was created in 1958. The agency is expected to operate as an agile high-tech service provider when in reality it is a lumbering government bureaucracy of nearly 50,000 employees. But the FAA’s difficulties should not be a surprise. When “NextGen” was launched nearly a decade ago, the U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a report finding “the FAA faces cultural and organizational challenges in implementing NextGen capabilities.”

That is why I am urging our representatives in Congress to pass the 21st Century Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization Act, or AIRR Act, which would cut the red tape in Washington and use commonsense management principles to put American jobs, American innovation and the traveling public first again.

The AIRR Act would establish a federally chartered, fully independent nonprofit organization to operate and modernize our nation’s air traffic control services. Rather than rely on a massive government bureaucracy, the AIRR Act’s nonprofit would be set up as a business with a CEO who is accountable to a board of directors chosen by aviation experts and users. They would have access to capital markets, the freedom to invest in a modern air traffic control system, and authority to make decisions based on realities in the market instead of dysfunctional political interests.

Importantly, the FAA would still have total authority to regulate air traffic for safety — it just wouldn't be in charge of making improvements or, in the FAA’s case, spending billions of taxpayers’ money.

These changes would get aviation improvements back on track, and save taxpayers billions while ensuring a safe, efficient and modern air traffic system for America’s future.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.bakersfield.com

Justice companies sued in New York over helicopter loan

NEW YORK, N.Y. – A lawsuit has been filed against Gov. James C. Justice II and his companies over a defaulted helicopter loan.

Citizens Asset Finance Inc. filed the lawsuit against Justice Aviation,  Justice and James C. Justice Companies Inc. on Sept. 19 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Citizens and the defendants entered into a loan and aircraft security agreement on Dec. 30, 2009, for an Agusta SpA model A109S helicopter.

The defendants executed a promissory note in the original sum of $6.6 million, according to the suit. As of Jan. 4, the defendants there was $4,283,631.73 left on the loan.

Despite repeated demands for payment, the defendants have failed to pay Citizens the amounts due under the loan documents, according to the suit.

Citizens claims the defendants have not made a payment on the rotorcraft since April and the lender wants to take back the helicopter.

The defendants are in breach of the guaranty and have caused Citizens damages, according to the suit.

Citizens is seeking damages and the foreclosure sale of the aircraft. It is being represented by Daniel C. Green, Douglas J. Lipke and William W. Thorsness of Vedder Price.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York case number: 1:17-cv-07115

Original article can be found here ➤ https://wvrecord.com

Kennett, Dunklin County, Missouri: Local pilots aid in hurricane relief

Relief supplies from Kennett were delivered by three planes, a 2001 Cessna Stationair flown by Marc Hoskins (right), a 1968 Beech Bonanza flown by Larry Ray (left) and a 1966 Piper Cherokee Six flown by Josh Ray.



Three Kennett-based pilots are assisting hurricane relief efforts in Florida. Larry Ray, Marc Hoskins and Josh Ray loaded their planes with donated supplies ranging from food, cleaning supplies and dog food to deliver to central Florida and the Florida Keys. Larry and Josh Ray dropped some supplies off at a staging area in Ocala, Florida on Wednesday. Larry then delivered others to Marathon, Florida. Hoskins, who recently participated in the Cajun Airlift from Louisiana to Texas following Hurricane Harvey, will make a delivery to Florida later this week. 

Rear seats were removed from each plane to allow the pilots to carry more, although each plane had various weight restrictions.

All of the items that were delivered were either donated or purchased by the three volunteer pilots who are coordinating their efforts with Aero Bridge, a national relief group that uses volunteer pilots to deliver supplies to hard-to-reach places.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.dddnews.com

Van's RV-8, N184SJ: Accident occurred September 26, 2017 at Orange Municipal Airport (KORE), Franklin County, Massachusetts

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Enfield, Connecticut

http://registry.faa.gov/N184SJ

NTSB Identification: GAA17CA557
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, September 26, 2017 in Orange, MA
Aircraft: BELLET JAMES J VANS RV 8, registration: N184SJ

NTSB investigators will use data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator, and will not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

Aircraft nose gear collapsed on landing.

Date: 26-SEP-17
Time: 16:50:00Z
Regis#: N184SJ
Aircraft Make: VANS
Aircraft Model: RV8
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: MINOR
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: UNKNOWN
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
City: ORANGE
State: MASSACHUSETTS

Former Klamath County Commissioner Jim Bellet and his wife, Sherry, suffered injuries Tuesday from a hard landing of their experimental aircraft while on a vacation trip to the East Coast.

The accident took place at Orange Airport in Massachusetts.

Bellet, who talked with the Herald and News from his hospital bed Friday, said that the engine failed while he was piloting his two-seater, Vans R-V 9 aircraft he had been flying since 2003.

Bellet, 69, was traveling with Klamath Falls friends, Mike and Kristi Redd, who were also flying their lightweight aircraft.

“The Redds were in front of us when I radioed I was having engine trouble and turned back toward the airport. The engine just sort of quit and didn’t want to fly anymore. We sort of had a hard landing and the Redds were the first on the scene. They called 911 and the emergency vehicles showed up within five minutes.”

Bellet suffered some broken vertebrae and his wife, also 69, suffered a cracked vertebrae in her neck and broken ankle, he said.

They are staying at UMass Medical Center in Worcester, Mass., and have undergone surgery. Bellet said they expect to be released from the hospital early next week, sporting back and neck braces.

“We were on our way up to Maine to vacation and then fly onto Niagra Falls. We’re both banged up, but we’re gonna make it. And our friends, the Redds, are here by our side helping us.”

Bellet was a county commissioner for one term, having been elected in 2012. He dropped out of the race in 2016, handing the seat to Derrick DeGroot.

He was also a co-chair for Klamath Community College's successful "Completing the Transformation" fundraising effort for new computer equipment for its new classrooms.

KCC launched the campaign in January, with a goal to raise $650,000 to purchase equipment for the college’s new Work Skills Technology Center (WSTC). When the campaign closed Aug. 31, 128 donors had contributed $760,057.


https://www.heraldandnews.com




ORANGE (CBS) — A small plane crashed during landing at the Orange Municipal Airport Tuesday afternoon, leaving two people injured.

The two-seat aircraft appears to have skidded across a field and a runway before coming to a stop around 12:17 p.m.

The Orange Fire Department said two people were taken to an area hospital. The extent of their injuries was not yet known.

“A Van's RV-8 aircraft went into the grass after its nose gear collapsed as it landed on Runway 1/19 at Orange Municipal Airport,” the FAA said in a statement.

The plane is currently on its belly off to the side of the runway, with debris scattered nearby.

Orange Fire said fuel was spilled on the runway as a result of the crash.

According to FAA.gov, the plane is registered to a man from Klamath Falls, Oregon.

The FAA said they will investigate the crash.

Story and video ➤ http://boston.cbslocal.com


Sky Ranger footage shows emergency crews and investigators at the scene of a plane's hard landing at Orange Municipal Airport. 

Watch video ➤ http://www.necn.com




ORANGE, Mass. —  A small plane skidded across a runway after its nose gear collapsed as it landed in Orange on Tuesday afternoon.

Police confirmed they were responding to the incident and said there were no injuries or fire.

When Sky5 arrived overhead, it saw the damaged plane in the grass, at the end of skid marks that stretched across the runway.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the Van's RV-8 aircraft was landing around 12:50 p.m. when the nose gear collapsed and it slid into the grass. 

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.wcvb.com

Stillwater Regional Airport (KSWO), Payne County, Oklahoma: New assistant director from Stillwater Police Department




After nearly 15 years of law enforcement service and seven years of experience in aviation and management education, Paul Priegel is eager to channel his passions for serving Stillwater and aviation as Stillwater Regional Airport’s assistant director.


“This is truly a tremendous opportunity,” Priegel said. “Our airport’s growth and progress has only begun and to come in at such a pivotal time and grow along with it is very exciting.”


He joins the airport with more than 11 years served with the Stillwater Police Department. He joined the department in 2006 as police officer after previously working for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, and rose to the rank of police sergeant in 2012.


During his career with the SPD, Priegel served as a patrol supervisor and remained heavily involved in community and extracurricular activities within the department, including the coordination of the department’s Community Outreach Program and serving as president of Crisis Negotiators of Oklahoma.


His experience with aviation is also extensive; he was the airport's law enforcement liaison as it prepared for the new regulations and protocols that were required for commercial air service and earned a master’s degree in Aviation and Space from Oklahoma State University in 2012. 


“Although I took it for the management and leadership focus to develop my law enforcement profession, this degree inadvertently led me to teaching aviation classes at OSU,” Priegel said. “I am going on my seventh year of teaching, with courses ranging from basic aviation accident investigation to management and security areas concerning security countermeasures, networking and legal and regulations issues.”


He added that he will miss serving with the professional group of men and women at the police department and is grateful for the professional development and opportunities he was afforded through the organization.


“The airport administration team and myself are very excited to have Paul onboard,” Airport Director Gary Johnson said. “With the airport’s addition of commercial airline services and the growth we are embracing, Paul adds much needed support and balance to our team.”


Priegel’s office is at Stillwater Regional Airport at 2020-1 W. Airport Road. His email is ppriegel@stillwater.org.


Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.stwnewspress.com

Boeing Recruits Insurers to Fill Financing Gap: Agencies will provide less creditworthy airlines with guarantees that make their aircraft purchases cheaper



The Wall Street Journal 
By Doug Cameron
Sept. 26, 2017 9:52 a.m. ET


Boeing Co. has found a new source of financing for jetliner orders that are expected to approach $200 billion a year by the end of the decade: insurance companies.

The aerospace company has helped form an alliance of insurers to provide lenders with loan or bond guarantees for jet sales. The new partnership could fill a gap in aircraft financing created by the extended closure of export credit agencies in the U.S. and Europe. Those agencies provide less creditworthy airlines with guarantees that make their aircraft purchases cheaper.

“This could be the industry’s biggest new source of finance,” said Robert Morin, a former U.S. Export-Import Bank official hired in June by insurance broker Marsh McLennan to develop the product under the banner of the Aircraft Finance Insurance Consortium.

Only a quarter of new aircraft are paid for in cash, with the balance financed through bank loans and the capital markets. More financing from insurers could attract fresh investors and draw back others who’ve pulled back from the market, industry experts say.

An initial consortium of four insurers-- Allianz AG , Axis Capital, Sompo International and Fidelis SA--has been assembled to provide guarantees that loans or bonds are paid, replicating the role of the big export credit agencies.

“It’s credit insurance on steroids,” said Jon Byron, senior vice president at Apple Bank Inc, which co-arranged the purchase of a Boeing 747-8 freighter using the structure for lessor Intrepid Aviation, which is renting the plane to Russia-based AirBridgeCargo.

Intrepid Chief Financial Officer Mike Lungariello said the new program isn’t a replacement for export credit financing. Boeing has lobbied fiercely for the return of U.S. export credit guarantees, which have been suspended since July 2015 due to a fight over the program in Congress.

“Export credit remains a necessary financial instrument with large capacity, especially in tight credit markets,” a Boeing spokesman said.

Airbus SE customers have also been unable to tap export credit funding, with agencies in the U.K., France and Germany closed to large aircraft business because of a probe into alleged corruption.

While Boeing was heavily involved in developing the new finance structure, it could be used by other jet makers as well, including Airbus. “It is another tool to finance aircraft purchases,” said an Airbus spokesman

Apple Bank has been regularly involved in export credit deals while poor returns kept co-arranger ING Group NV out of the market for a number of years before being attracted back by the new structure.

Planes such as the 747 jumbo are among the toughest to finance because of a relatively small customer base. Boeing has opted to rent some of the planes in recent years after airlines found them tough to buy with commercial funds.

Norwegian Air Shuttle AS A has been the biggest customer through the new program. Greensill Capital, a supply chain finance specialist, has used insurance-backed bonds to finance six Boeing 737 Max planes for the Norwegian low-cost carrier’s leasing arm.

London-based Greensill is a new entrant to aircraft finance, though is active in the broader aerospace industry, running a supply chain finance network for Airbus.

Original article can be found here ➤ https://www.wsj.com

Mooney M20E, N5684Q: Incident occurred September 23, 2017 at Perris Valley Airport (L65), Riverside County, California

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Riverside, California

Aircraft left main gear collapsed on landing.

http://registry.faa.gov/N5684Q

Date: 23-SEP-17
Time: 22:00:00Z
Regis#: N5684Q
Aircraft Make: MOONEY
Aircraft Model: M20E
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: MINOR
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
City: PERRIS
State: CALIFORNIA

Cub Crafters CCK-1865, N722DB, Colaur LLC: Incident occurred September 25, 2017 at Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (KBZN), Belgrade, Gallatin County, Montana

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Helena, Montana

Aircraft ground looped on landing.

Colaur LLC: http://registry.faa.gov/N722DB

Date: 25-SEP-17
Time: 21:59:00Z
Regis#: N722DB
Aircraft Make: CUB CRAFTERS
Aircraft Model: NOT RECORDED
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: MINOR
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
City: BOZEMAN
State: MONTANA

Cessna 150L, N19494, Tomorrow's Aeronautical Museum: Incident occurred September 25, 2017 at Compton/Woodley Airport (KCPM), Compton, Los Angeles County, California

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Long Beach, California

Aircraft struck two (2) parked aircraft (N513B, N7864Z) while taxiing.

Tomorrow's Aeronautical Museum:  http://registry.faa.gov/N19494

Date: 25-SEP-17
Time: 18:20:00Z
Regis#: N19494
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 150
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: UNKNOWN
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: TAXI (TXI)
City: COMPTON
State: CALIFORNIA

Cessna 172P Skyhawk, N5448K, registered to and operated by Sky Guam Aviation Inc: Accident occurred September 25, 2017 at A.B. Won Pat International Airport, Guam

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Honolulu, Hawaii


Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Sky Guam Aviation Inc: http://registry.faa.gov/N5448K

NTSB Identification: WPR17LA216
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, September 25, 2017 in Tamuning, GU
Aircraft: CESSNA 172P, registration: N5448K
Injuries: 3 Uninjured.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On September 25, 2017, about 1715 LCL, a Cessna 172P, N5448K, sustained substantial damage when it impacted terrain following a loss of engine at Guam International Airport (GUM), Tamuning, Guam. The airplane was registered to and operated by Sky Guam Aviation, Inc. under the provision of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The pilot and two passengers were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed for the flight that originated from GUM at 1650.

The pilot reported that the accident flight was scheduled as a 20-minute local sightseeing flight and that it was his last flight of the day. He conducted a normal preflight and reported no issues during the beginning of the flight. While enroute, the pilot noticed sparks on his left side and smoke started to fill up the cabin. The pilot opened the left window to disperse the smoke. He did not observe fire but the smoke continued to accumulate in the cockpit. Shortly after, the engine lost power and the airplane started to shake violently. The pilot decided to return to the airport and made a mayday call to inform the tower of the engine failure. While enroute to the airport, he attempted to restart the engine but he was unsuccessful. The pilot realized he did not have a sufficient altitude to land on the runway and initiated a forced landing to a nearby field. The airplane landed short of the airport perimeter fence.





Initial findings show the Cessna 172P Skyhawk landed off the A.B. Won Pat International Airport runway on Monday was experiencing an electrical fire in-flight.

Guam International Airport Authority spokeswoman Rolenda Faasuamalie said the pilot of the Sky Guam Aviation aircraft advised control tower operators of an onboard electrical fire requiring an emergency landing.

The crash occurred approximately 5:12 p.m. that day. But the site wasn't cleared until 8 a.m. the following day after officials could conduct an on-site investigation.







'Incident is very unusual'

"This incident is very unusual. It's definitely not something that occurs often here," Faasuamalie said.

"Their maintenance schedules are up to the company's discretion. GIAA's capacity is just to ensure they have the correct certifications and licenses to fly," she said.

Onboard the aircraft were two passengers and one pilot, all of whom were conscious and responsive when Guam Fire Department officials arrived.

The pilot, who wasn't identified, stayed at the crash site until all responders left the site Monday night.

No flames or smoke were seen when the plane hit the ground.

No other flights were disrupted, Faasuamalie has said.

The aviation company has been in business for at least five years and is listed as a tourism business with the Guam Visitors Bureau.

Original article can be found here ➤ https://www.postguam.com

Asheville Regional Airport (KAVL), Fletcher, Henderson County, North Carolina: Runway lights back on, many travelers in limbo



Asheville, N.C. (WLOS) — The runway light at the Asheville Regional Airport have been repaired but many travelers are still dealing with delays and cancellations.

The lights were listed as inoperable Monday night, preventing planes from landing.

Airport officials say electricians worked overnight to correct the problem. The lights came back on around 2 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Read more here ➤ http://wlos.com

House Democrats Block Bill Tying Storm Aid to Federal Aviation Administration Funding: Bill would have given taxpayers affected by this year’s hurricanes bigger-than-usual deductions for property losses



The Wall Street Journal
By Natalie Andrews and  Andy Pasztor
Sept. 25, 2017 7:37 p.m. ET


WASHINGTON—House Democrats blocked a bill on Monday intended to give relief to taxpayers in areas damaged by recent hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, on the grounds that it doesn’t match previous, similar disaster relief bills or address other concerns in Congress, such as the fate of young immigrants.

The hurricane tax relief was tacked on to a bill to extend funding for the Federal Aviation Administration, which expires on Saturday.

The bill, which needed two-thirds support to pass the House under a fast-track procedure, fell short, with 245 in favor and 171 against.

The bill was set to give U.S. taxpayers affected by this year’s hurricanes bigger-than-usual deductions for their property losses and penalty-free access to retirement accounts. It doesn’t extend the same-level of tax relief that was given to victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that the bill would result in $6.63 billion in tax relief in 2018.

“The weak tax provisions added to this package don’t treat all families recovering from natural disasters the same,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said in a statement. “All Americans, no matter where they live, deserve the same relief and resources they need to rebuild their lives.”

In her statement objecting to the legislation, Mrs. Pelosi also questioned why the Dream Act, which would help undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, could not also be added to the bill.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) accused Democrats of playing politics.

“It’s shameful that politics will trump meaningful relief for families suffering from these devastating hurricanes. House Democrats are willing to shut down air-traffic control to make a political point,” Mr. Ryan said in a statement.

Democrats also objected to the legislation, introduced by Texas Rep. Kevin Brady who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, because it doesn’t help people in Western states affected by recent wildfires, as well as those still recovering from past natural disasters, such as superstorm Sandy in 2012.

Should the Federal Aviation Administration funding not be extended, thousands of Federal Aviation Administration employees could be furloughed, and projects at airports will come to a halt. But even before the Federal Aviation Administration bill became embroiled in debate over hurricane relief and other issues, passage of a longer-term package reauthorizing the agency already appeared unlikely. Partisan splits have kept the Federal Aviation Administration measure from getting to the floor of either chamber as House and Senate leaders remain at odds over controversial proposals for Federal Aviation Administration policy changes, such as shifting the nation’s air-traffic control system to a nonprofit corporation.

With one week left before the Federal Aviation Administration current authorities are due to expire, the House is expected to abandon partisan provisions and pass a stripped-down, short-term Federal Aviation Administration bill. Senate leaders, among other things, are expected to drop language intended to reduce minimum experience requirements for newly hired co-pilots. Down the road, both sides also will have to work out differences over regulating drones and protecting rights of airline passengers.

Stretching back 10 years, both Federal Aviation Administration and industry officials have complained that nearly two dozen short-term, stopgap agency funding bills significantly hurt air-traffic control modernization plans and delayed other Federal Aviation Administration priorities. At the start of the latest debate on an Federal Aviation Administration bill months ago, House and Senate Republican leaders expressed confidence that pattern would be broken.

—Kristina Peterson contributed to this article.

Original article can be found here ➤ https://www.wsj.com