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Fri, May 11, 2007

FAA Puts Hat In Hand In Latest 'Fact Sheet'

Stresses Agency Needs Funding For NextGen

The FAA has published a fact sheet detailing the agency's efforts to modernize the nation's air traffic control system... while also taking the opportunity to plug its proposed funding reauthorization plan, now before Congress.

"The air transportation system is stretched thin," the FAA notes. "Currently, the system handles 750 million passengers each year. We expect this number to reach one billion by 2015 and forecasts indicate increases in demand ranging from a factor of two to three by 2025."

The agency also notes that "[d]elays in 2006 were the worst in history. Passengers at the three most delayed airports in the nation -- Newark, JFK and LaGuardia -- experienced on-time arrivals roughly 65 percent of the time and delays averaged one hour. That is unacceptable."

To combat the problem in the short term, the FAA says it has gone to the ground: building new runways, installing new technology, and putting new procedures in place to facilitate capacity and efficiency enhancements.

"Since 2001, we have built 10 miles of new runways at 10 of our busiest airports," says the agency. "Together these accommodate over 1.6 million more operations per year and decrease average delay per operation at these airports by approximately 5 minutes. By 2010, new projects will be completed at Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Seattle-Tacoma, O'Hare, Dulles and Charlotte."

But that's not enough, the agency warns.

"As air travel demand continues to rise, and it will, simply adding pavement to the existing airports will not be enough," the agency states. "The current air traffic system was built on 1960's technology and has reached the limits of its ability to handle more traffic. It cannot be expanded.

"NextGen is a revolutionary approach that will enable us to handle up to three times today's traffic levels," the FAA asserts. "Aviation's ability to continue to play its traditionally dynamic role in our economy will be substantially diminished unless new NextGen technology and procedures are put in to place now."

And that will take money... more money that the FAA has access to now, the agency claims.

"The Administration's NextGen Financing Reform Act, sent to Congress in February, will provide a stable, cost-based revenue stream to fund the transition to NextGen," the FAA writes. "The current tax system expires September 30, however, so Congress must act now."

Notice how the agency's "Fact Sheet" quickly turned into a political campaign plug? Thought so...

FMI: www.faa.gov

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