More Aviation Funds for Sooners Unlikely

Article excerpt

Journal Record Staff Reporter

Disbursement of federal aviation trust fund money is distributed fairly and equitably among the 50 states, so there's not much chance that Oklahoma's share will increase appreciably, the nation's top aviation official said Tuesday.

Oklahoma officials have complained for years that of the federal aviation taxes paid from the state, only 4.6 percent is returned annually for use on airport improvement projects. This figure, however, is misleading, said David R. Hinson, administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration.

"If you look at a particular time period, I'm sure that you can make a case that one state or the other is not getting its fair share returned," he said during a press conference in Oklahoma City. "But all the states get anywhere from zero to 100 percent of their tax money back. It just depends upon which time period you are looking at.

"In the short term, I'm sure that Oklahoma does not receive as much as it contributes, but over the long term, you will receive a good share. I'm convinced that the aviation trust fund is distributed equally, even-handedly and equitably among the 50 states."

Hinson, an Oklahoma native, was visiting the FAA's Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center at Will Rogers World Airport to help prepare for Partnership 21 which will bring about 100 aviation leaders from Latin America and the Caribbean to Norman June 12-17. That program, which is expected to attract senior officials, mostly directors of civil aviation, is co-sponsored by the FAA's Office of International Aviation and the University of Oklahoma College of Continuing Education.

"We want to expand our aviation partnership among the countries from Canada to Chile and Argentina," Hinson said. "We want to make sure that we are ready for this wonderful opportunity to show the good Oklahoma hospitality."

Objective of Partnership 21 is to form mutually beneficial international alliances for the 21st Century by encouraging a cooperative effort with the FAA , participating regions, academia and private sector aviation companies and associations, the FAA said.

It will involve discussions, presentations and demonstrations on aspects of civil aviation, including the FAA's experience in plans for global navigation satellite system and other modernization programs in use or planned.

One of the aspects of the program, Hinson said, will be discussions on aviation safety which has gotten a big boost in the United States recently. There have been no passenger fatalities on commercial airlines in the United States in two years, and only one fatality on the ground, Hinson said.

"In the past three decades, there have been remarkable improvements in flight safety," he said. "If you look at our accident record in 1961 and consider the passenger miles flown that year, with the same safety record with the number of passenger miles flown in 1994, there should have been 245 accidents. …