FAA Research Bill Moving through Congress
As the FAA’s major programs such as NextGen make their way through initial planning and implementation, at least a few members of Congress feel that the agency needs some assistance with R&D. Chairman of the House subcommittee on space and aeronautics Rep. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) introduced the Federal Aviation Research and Development Reauthorization Act of 2007 with cosponsor Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) last week. The bill, which has already passed Rep. Udall’s subcommittee, reauthorizes some existing projects, introduces some new ones, and aims to strengthen the oft-handcuffed Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO). The biggest winners in the bill for the next fiscal year are the environment/energy and NextGen funding, each authorized at approximately $20 million. One big change suggested for the JPDO would be the realignment of the director to report directly to the FAA Administrator and serve as the associate administrator for NextGen, the next-generation air transportation system. The full Science and Technology Committee is expected to mark up the bill tomorrow.