Senate Introduces FAA Reauthorization Bill
A bipartisan group of senators on Tuesday introduced a two-year FAA reauthorization bill that speeds up the timetable for implementation of the NextGen ATC system but does not call for user fees. That means, at least for now, general aviation will continue to pay its share of FAA programs and ATC modernization through modestly higher fuel taxes, as opposed to a new system of user fees that the Obama Administration wants in Fiscal Year 2011. Under the proposed bill, NextGen, which originally had a fully operational target date of 2025, would be accelerated to provide 100-percent required navigation performance and area navigation at the top 35 airports by 2014, with the entire National Airspace System (NAS) included by 2018. It also directs the FAA to accelerate planned timelines for integrating ADS-B technology into the NAS, requiring the use of ADS-B Out on all aircraft by 2015 and ADS-B In on all aircraft by 2018. While the House passed a three-year FAA reauthorization act, which would run to May in FY2012, the Senate measure only covers FY2010 and FY 2011. Differences in the two versions would have to be hashed out in a House-Senate conference committee before it goes to the President to sign.