Senate committee approves FAA reauthorization

July 22, 2009

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on July 21 approved S.1451, an FAA reauthorization bill that would set the course for modernization of the national airspace system and fund the FAA for the next two years.

The two-year authorization would focus on accelerating NextGen air traffic control modernization, including new deadlines for the adoption of GPS technology such as ADS-B.

In recent years, the FAA has been operating under a series of temporary funding extensions, the latest of which runs through the end of September. The House passed a three-year FAA reauthorization on May 21; both the House and Senate FAA reauthorizations for 2009 would fund the agency using aviation fuel taxes, ticket taxes, and a general fund contribution. AOPA supports this time-tested system of funding for the FAA.

Before the bill goes to the Senate floor, the Finance Committee will decide whether to extend fuel taxes at their current level or approve the modest increase in the legislation adopted by the House. The House measure would raise taxes from 19.3 cents per gallon to 24.1 cents per gallon for avgas and from 21.8 cents per gallon to 35.9 cents per gallon for noncommercial jet fuel.

If the Senate passes S.1451, the House and Senate reauthorization bills will go to a conference committee to reconcile the differences.