The U.S. Senate passed what Reuters calls a ‘sweeping’ aviation bill that has now been sent to President Barack Obama for signing. The House of Representatives passed the measure last week.
Ends Temporary Funding Bills for FAA
The bill was a while in coming to fruition. Since 2007, funding for the Federal Aviation Administration had been lurching along through a series of 23 temporary spending bills including one that expired last summer that resulted in a partial shutdown of the FAA and a rare tax break for consumers that was ultimately negated by an airfare increase.
FAA Funding and NextGen Upgrades
This new bill will provide the FAA with ‘predictable funding’ – it receives about $15 billion each year – but it will also help bring about the so-called NextGen era for the nation’s air traffic antiquated system, which has been criticized by many as long overdue.
Provisions of FAA Bill
Major provisions in the bill include the following:
- About $3 billion per year will be used to modernize air traffic control, moving it from a radar-based system to GPS
- The Department of Transportation will be able to offer ‘loan guarantees’ up-to-date equipment needed for plans to mesh with new air traffic systems
- $190 million will be used annually to subsidize flights to small communities that might not otherwise get airline service