Airport Construction Grants In Bill Could 'Support' 90,000
Jobs, Senators Say
Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, Chairman of the U.S.
Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation has
introduced the FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety
Improvement Act. It is the same bill that passed the U.S. Senate
last year, 93-0.
“This is a significant FAA package that will support
thousands of jobs, strengthen airline safety and modernize
America’s outdated air traffic control system. It will lead
to a better aviation system for all Americans,” Chairman
Rockefeller said in a news release. “Our aviation system is
fundamental to our communities and our nation’s long-term
economic growth. I am committed to getting this bill to the
President’s desk this year.”
The FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement
Act introduced in the Senate would:
- Require the FAA to develop a plan to provide runway incursion
information to pilots in the cockpit, and initiate better processes
for tracking and investigating operational errors.
- Require better safety oversight of foreign repair
- Improve safety for helicopter emergency medical service
operations by mandating that the FAA standardize dispatch
procedures, and requiring the use of terrain awareness and warning
systems, and flight data and cockpit voice recorders on board such
- Strengthen the inspection of airline operations.
The measure includes several provisions to modernize the
nation’s air transportation system, and to ensure that the
FAA adopts the next generation of air traffic control technology in
a timely and effective manner. The bill would:
- Establish clear deadlines for the adoption of existing Next
Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) navigation and
surveillance technology. For example, the bill requires the
development of Required Navigation Performance (RNP) and Area
Navigation (RNAV) procedures at the busiest 35 airports by 2014,
and for the entire National Airspace System (NAS) by 2018.
- Direct the FAA to accelerate planned timelines for integrating
Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) technology into
- Create an “Air Traffic Control Modernization Oversight
Board” to provide better oversight of FAA’s
- Establish a “Chief NextGen Officer” position at FAA
to oversee implementation of all NextGen programs, and provide
greater accountability over the modernization process.
Chairman Rockefeller says key provisions in the bill will
strengthen the federal government’s commitment to small
community air service. Specifically, he says the FAA Air
Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act would:
- Propose a number of improvements to the Essential Air Service
(EAS) program to allow communities greater flexibility in
attracting desired air service, including: (1) permitting new
financial incentives into contracts with EAS carriers to encourage
better service; (2) allowing longer-term EAS contracts if such an
arrangement is in the public interest; (3) allowing the development
of incentives for large airlines to code-share on service to small
communities; and (4) requiring large airlines to code-share on EAS
flights in up to 10 communities.
- Establish an Office of Rural Aviation within the Department of
Transportation (DOT) to focus on the development of longer-term EAS
- Extend a provision that raises the federal share for certain
small airport improvement projects to 95 percent.
The online news site The Blaze reports that Senate Majority
Leader Harry Reid said that the bill would "support" as many as
90,000 jobs, and could affect another 190,000. The language was
important because it is not known how may of the jobs would be
The bill stalled in congress last year after lawmakers from the
House and Senate were unable to agree on some key issues, including
a long-simmering labor dispute between UPS and FedEx Express.
Landing slot distribution at Washington's Regan National Airport
were also a sticking point in the negotiations.
At the first meeting held this year by the House Transportation
and Infrastructure Committee, incoming Chairman John Mica (R-7-FL)
called FAA reauthorization a top priority, stating “The
country and the committee deserve as our first objective getting an
FAA bill out.” Mica noted the economic importance of aviation
in the U.S., and said “a blueprint for the future” is
needed for the industry. A House committee hearing on FAA
reauthorization is scheduled for February 8, and the says
it NBAA plans to submit comments to the committee.
NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen welcomed the renewed emphasis in
Congress on completing an FAA reauthorization package. “The
general aviation community supports continued transformation to a
modernized aviation system, and we are pleased that, in the coming
weeks, Congress will be focused on this issue," Bolen said.