Bill Aims To Help Small Aviation Firms


    WASHINGTON D.C. — Although private planes and flight schools haven’t been cleared yet to fly in the Class B air space that surrounds the nation’s largest cities, a bill to provide financial aid to the general aviation industry was introduced in the House of Representatives last week.

    The bill, co-sponsored by Congressman Vern Ehlers, R-Grand Rapids, amends the Small Business Act and requires the Small Business Administration to provide grants and loans to small aviation firms that have suffered financial losses since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11.

    The legislation specifies that companies can defer repayments of loans and interest for one year, and that each grant should at least equal all the business revenue a firm has lost from the restrictions placed on air travel following the attacks.

    The bill, HR 3007, also offers low-interest long-term loans, a one-year deferment for payments on any SBA loans, and a due-date extension from the federal excise tax or any other federal fee that was incurred while doing business.

    For a company to qualify, it has to be a regular provider of general aviation services and have suffered substantial economic losses. The bill includes aid for firms that rent airplanes and flight schools.

    The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association has called for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to administer the grants and help companies obtain loans through the SBA program.

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