The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee has approved an FAA reauthorization bill that includes several AOPA-backed provisions. The bill would direct nearly $3.5 billion for airport improvement next year, with $100 million increases in each of the next two years. (The bill has to go through several more steps before becoming law.)
A reauthorization bill is a multiyear spending plan. The Senate version lays out the FAA's three-year priorities for operations, airport improvement, air traffic control modernization, and research.
"The bill approved by the Senate committee addresses several of our concerns," said Andy Cebula, AOPA senior vice president of government and technical affairs, "including continued funding for airport improvements and a separate fund for security enhancements so that, for instance, new baggage screening machines aren't paid for out of the same account as general aviation runway resurfacing."
The bill also contains AOPA-recommended language that will make it easier for smaller GA airports to gain access to federal funds by reducing the amount they have to contribute to a federally backed project. And it carries a provision that would allow those airports to use some federal money for projects like adding hangars or improving a fuel farm once the runway and taxiway needs are met.
The legislation is now before the full Senate, which still has to act on it. Meanwhile, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is working on its version of reauthorization bill and could vote on it before the Memorial Day recess. Later, the Senate and House will have to reconcile their versions of the spending bill.