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Highlights

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Airport and Airway Trust Fund (Trust Fund), and the excise taxes that support the Trust Fund are scheduled for reauthorization at the end of fiscal year 2007. FAA is primarily supported by the Trust Fund, which receives revenues from a series of excise taxes paid by users of the national airspace system (NAS). The Trust Fund's uncommitted balance decreased by more than 70 percent from the end of fiscal year 2001 through the end of fiscal year 2005. The remaining funding is derived from the General Fund. This report focuses on the portion of revenues generated from users of the NAS and addresses the following key questions: (1) What advantages and concerns have been raised about the current approach to collecting revenues from NAS users to fund FAA, and to what extent does available evidence support the concerns? (2) What are the implications of adopting alternative funding options to collect the revenues contributed by users that fund FAA's budget? (3) What are the advantages and disadvantages of authorizing FAA to use debt financing for capital projects? This report is based on interviews with relevant federal agencies, including FAA, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Congressional Budget Office. GAO also obtained relevant documents from these agencies, other key stakeholders, and academic and financial experts.

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