January 28, 2011
By Dan Namowitz
Sen. John D. Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, has introduced a long-term FAA reauthorization and modernization bill that went to the Senate floor for consideration.
The $34.5 billion, two-year bill, which passed the Senate 93-0 last year, includes provisions to accelerate the FAA’s implementation schedule for components of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), set up a board to oversee FAA modernization programs, and create a new position of “chief NextGen officer” within the FAA to keep NextGen’s programs on track.
The FAA is currently operating under a continuing resolution which expires on March 31. It is the seventeenth extension of FAA funding since the last long-term FAA bill expired in 2007.
“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is a significant FAA package that will support thousands of jobs, strengthen airline safety and modernize America’s outdated air traffic control system.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,” said Rockefeller in a Jan. 28 news release.
The bill contains provisions to accelerate the FAA’s implementation, now planned for completion in 2020, of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) Out technology for NextGen, require the FAA to develop a program to improve runway incursion information for pilots, and enhance air service to small communities.
“AOPA’s 405,000 members appreciate the Senate’s efforts to put this critically important reauthorization back in motion with this early action,” said AOPA Vice President of Legislative Affairs Lorraine Howerton.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
A new FAA policy on obstructive sleep apnea that addresses many of the concerns raised by AOPA is scheduled to take effect March 2.
AOPA and the National Business Aviation Association have jointly filed an amicus, or friend of the court, brief in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals as part of the ongoing legal battle over the future of Santa Monica Municipal Airport.
AOPA worked with the flight training industry and FAA to quickly resolve a problem that suddenly put many rating applications on hold.
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