The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee is calling for a ban on the use of any funding that could be used to remove the nation’s air traffic control organization from the FAA. That call was included in a $16.4 billion funding package that the committee is recommending for the FAA in Fiscal Year 2017.
On Thursday, the committee approved the FY2017 transportation, housing and urban development bill that included some of the panel's strongest language yet on the House proposal to create an independent, user-funded corporation to run ATC. “The attempt to remove the air traffic control system from the FAA is fraught with risk, could lead to uncontrollable cost increases to consumers and could ultimately harm users and operators in the system,” the committee said in report language accompanying the funding bill. “The committee strongly believes that air traffic control should remain an inherently governmental function.”
While the committee acknowledged growing congressional opposition to the plan, it added the prohibition on use of funds for the ATC plan in case “there be any effort to bypass the will of Congress.”
As for FAA funding, the Senate appropriators are calling for a $131.6 million increase in the agency’s funding over FY2016, and $512.5 million more than requested by the White House. The funding includes money to increase the certification workforce and stresses that the FAA should make certification reforms. It further reiterates a directive to implement Part 23 certification reforms, ups funding for unleaded fuel research and continues the 100,000-pound threshold for aircraft at Teterboro Airport, as well as the mandate for the agency to honor requests to block access to registration information on real-time flight-tracking programs.