House presented with bill calling for sweeping FAA reform

Congress

(Reuters)

Legislation to reform the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), including a plan to spin-off air traffic control operations, was introduced in the House of Representatives Thursday.

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Rep. Bill Shuster, (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, introduced the bipartisan bill along with Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) called The 21st Century Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization Act (AIRR).

“This bill is about giving all Americans the safe and efficient, 21st century aviation system they deserve while keeping America the leader in aviation,” Shuster said. “We have the busiest aviation system in the world, and though it’s safe, it’s also inefficient, costly, and unable to keep up with growing demand or developing technology.”

The legislation is a six-year reauthorization of the FAA and includes provisions to improve the flying experience for passengers and spin-off air traffic control operations from the FAA into a private, non-profit organization. Shuster, along with President Trump, have cited outdated technology and government red tape as major reasons to push ahead with the reorganization.

“While the U.S. continues to have the safest aviation system in the world, we do not have the most efficient or effective system for future growth,” said LoBiondo. “Not often is the sequel better than the original, but provisions adopted with input from stakeholders and our colleagues has certainly made the AIRR Act a stronger vision for transforming our aviation system and worthy of bipartisan support.”

Currently, the FAA is still in the process of implementing its “NextGen” program, aimed at modernizing air traffic control operations, including the transition from 1950s-era ground-based radar to satellite (GPS) radar technology. This plan is expected to help reduce delays and provide controllers with a more accurate representation of where airplanes are in the sky. The FAA said its investment in NextGen improvements through 2030 is $20.6 billion, though its target date for completion is 2025.