HAI’s Government Affairs team discusses the FAA’s updated urban air mobility (UAM) blueprint, a Texas bill to exempt aircraft repair services from taxation, Europe’s first workshop on renewable and low-carbon fuels, and more.
HAI US News
Left Pending: Texas H.B.3003, Sales and Use Tax Exemption for Aircraft Repair, Remodeling, or Maintenance
Two months ago, Texas State Rep. Ernest Bailes IV (R-18) introduced House Bill 3003 (H.B.3003) that, if passed, would eliminate taxes on aircraft repair, remodeling, and maintenance services. The exemption would also apply to machinery, tools, supplies, and equipment used exclusively for aircraft repair, remodeling, and maintenance. Additionally, any tangible personal property that is permanently affixed or attached to an aircraft as a component part would also be exempt from taxes.
Last week, H.B.3003 was scheduled for a public hearing and has since been left pending in the House Ways & Means Committee.
It is important to note that the general aviation industry has a massive economic impact in Texas, with a significant portion coming from aircraft maintenance. However, the current taxes on aircraft parts put the maintenance business at a competitive disadvantage. Aircraft parts are exempt from sales tax in almost all adjacent states and in 35 states nationwide. One of the goals of H.B.3003 is to create more jobs in aircraft maintenance, which is a labor-intensive industry that provides high-wage employment for highly skilled aviation professionals. Therefore, HAI fully supports and looks forward to the passage of H.B.3003.
The Air Traffic Controller Workforce Plan May Be in Jeopardy
Last week, the FAA released its latest report on building and maintaining staffing levels for safe and efficient operation of the national airspace system (NAS). The report includes analysis and projections of changes in air traffic forecasts, controller retirements, and other factors.
Like much of the rest of the private and public sectors, the FAA has been recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite challenges, the air traffic organization has met recruitment goals each year and is making progress toward eliminating the gap created by the pandemic. Last year, the FAA was at 99% of its hiring goal and is on track to hire 1,500 controllers this year. The application window has officially opened to hire an additional 1,800 controllers for 2024.
However, Acting Administrator Billy Nolen stated in a letter to lawmakers that recently passed spending cuts by the House of Representatives could lead to chaos in summer air travel. The FAA would have to halt controller training and new hiring, leading to the dismissal of thousands of FAA employees from their safety duties. The replacement/modernization of the Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) computer system would also be postponed, and air traffic modernization work would be affected. Therefore, Nolen is urging Congress to support the FAA’s efforts and pass a budget that maintains high standards for safety and efficiency for taxpayers. The FAA stresses the need for consistent funding amid budget debates in Congress.
HAI recognizes and appreciates the work conducted by air traffic controllers. If interested, read the 2023 Air Traffic Controller Workforce Plan.
FAA Updates UAM Blueprint
Last week, the FAA released its Urban Air Mobility (UAM) Concept of Operation (ConOps) v2.0. This updated blueprint is part of the ongoing collaboration between the government and industry stakeholders to develop an advanced air mobility (AAM) concept that will provide an innovative air transportation system for moving people and cargo between local, regional, and underserved urban locations, using new aircraft, technologies, and infrastructure.
The FAA NextGen Office released the initial ConOps v1.0 for UAM in June 2020 to describe a near-future operational environment. Rather than a policy statement of what integration will look like, ConOps is a description of how integration will evolve over time, from the near-term to high-density urban operations. The ConOps blueprint will be updated as analyses, trials, and collaboration produce new outcomes.
According to the Executive Summary, UAM ConOps v2.0 “reflects the continued maturation of UAM and incorporates feedback received on v1.0, as well as research outcomes and additional input from government and industry stakeholders. Its focus is on clarifying elements from the initial version and providing additional detail in response to the feedback and input.”
UAM operations will start with basic operations that use existing rules to gradually increase the number of flights, aircraft performance, and autonomy. This ConOps aims to give the FAA, NASA, industry, and other stakeholders a shared understanding of the challenges and potential of UAM technologies. It provides examples of how they can be applied to the NAS, so everyone can discuss and make decisions together. If interested, read the FAA’s updated UAM/AAM blueprint.
HAI International News
First Renewable and Low-Carbon Fuels Workshop Held
Europe’s Renewable and Low-Carbon Fuels Value Chain Industrial Alliance (the RLCF Alliance) convened its inaugural workshop on Mar. 29, 2023. More than 200 members participated in this event, exchanging information about the latest advancements in the industry and presenting on projects that included feedstock sourcing, fuel production, and the implementation of aviation and maritime fuels.
The workshop was divided into four sessions, each moderated by the chair of one of the RLCF Alliance’s four roundtables. Tobias Block from the eFuel Alliance moderated the first session, which explored production and sourcing. Antoine Laborde from Air-France and Alexander Feindt from MAN Energy Solutions moderated the second and third sessions, respectively, which focused on the supply of aviation (second session) and maritime fuels (third session). The fourth session, moderated by Riccardo Dutto from Intesa Sanpaolo Group, addressed financing and the pipeline of projects.
In the coming months, the RLCF Alliance intends to expand its project development tool kit, encompassing technology standards, assessment tools for business models, and checklists for profitability. The RLCF Alliance plans to issue a call for project proposals in September 2023, coinciding with the next meeting of its general assembly.