President Barack Obama announced Sept. 6 that his administration will press for a major investment in the nation’s transportation infrastructure, including at airports and in the Next Generation air transportation system (NextGen). The president made the announcement during a Labor Day speech in Milwaukee, Wis.
"We appreciate the recognition in President Obama’s infrastructure announcement of the critical role aviation plays in the nation’s transportation system," said AOPA President Craig Fuller. "AOPA will work to support the president’s infrastructure program to ensure the monies are used effectively at airports across the country and to advance the modernization of our air traffic control system as part of the FAA’s NextGen initiative.
"But as Congress and the administration proceed, it is vitally important that they both remember that general aviation is an integral part of the national transportation system, and that the key to the success of NextGen is a commitment by the government to invest in new technologies for all users."
Obama’s plan calls for investment in the nation’s entire transportation infrastructure: roads, rails, and runways. He intends to ask Congress to frontload the program with an immediate $50 billion—described as a "significant share of the infrastructure resources"—and pledged to work with Congress to fully pay for the program.
While much of the president’s proposal focuses on surface transportation, including high-speed rail, he promised "robust" investment in air traffic control modernization. A White House fact sheet released to accompany the president’s speech said, "This investment will help both the FAA and airlines to install new technologies and, among other improvements, move from a national ground-based radar surveillance system to a more accurate satellite-based surveillance system—the backbone of a broader effort to reduce delays for passengers, increase fuel efficiency for carriers, and cut airport noise for those who live and work near airports."
"AOPA will be paying close attention as this proposal moves forward," concluded Fuller. "We will be especially attentive to how the aviation portion of the plan is funded, and to whether or not the investments benefit the entire aviation transportation system."