FAA's Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 budget request of $15.4 billion trims base Nextgen funding, allocates some $300 million for badly needed maintenance of existing systems, and once again proposes to lower airport grant outlays in exchange for giving larger airports more flexibility to raise funds for specific projects.

The request, a $350 million decline over 2014’s estimated outlays, includes includes $836 million in base Nextgen funding, a 7.2% decline compared to FY14’s comparable $901 million request, and a 5.3% dip from the sequestration-adjusted FY12 amount of $883 million.

The FY15 request also includes another $186 million for Nextgen through the “Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative,” which gives FAA flexibility to fund promising, near-term technologies that will save fuel and time.

FAA also would get $370 million as part of a “National Airspace System Sustainment Strategy” that would put a dent in the multi-billion dollar maintenance funding need for existing air traffic control infrastructure.

The agency again proposes to trim the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grant pot, from $3.4 billion to $2.9 billion, by eliminating “entitlement,” or guaranteed, funding for large hub airports. In exchange, all airports would be allowed to boost Passenger Facility Charge amounts to $8. They have been capped at $4.50 since 2000. Similar efforts in the last several years have failed to get through Congress.

The administration’s budget also renews its call for a $100 per flight fee for commercial and business aviation operations. Like the attempted AIP cuts, this effort has failed to get past lawmakers.

The Department of Transportation budget request also includes $261 million for essential air service, including funds allocated from overflight fees.

Subscribers to the Aviation Week Intelligence Network (AWIN) should keep visiting AWIN’s 2015 budget page for news, data and analysis of programs and priorities throughout the business day and as the proposal makes its way through Congress. The page can be found at http://www.aviationweek.com/awin/USBudget2015.aspx.