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Entries in Reauthorization Bill (1)

Tuesday
Feb082011

House Lawmakers Review FAA Reauthorization

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure John Mica, R-Fla., said Tuesday that the FAA reauthorization bill is “the top priority” and that he hopes “to have this bill on the president’s desk before the current 17th extension expires” at the end of March.

Illinois Democrat Jerry Costello agreed. “Based on the work we did last Congress, I believe we can complete a bipartisan bill very quickly,” he said at Tuesday’s Aviation Subcommittee hearing. The FAA has been operating under a series of short-term extensions since the last reauthorization, which was passed in 2003, expired in 2007.

Other committee members, however, expressed reservations. “I think it is incumbent upon the FAA to demonstrate that they can be trusted to properly administer taxpayer dollars,” Rep. Chip Cravaack, R-Minn., said.

Testifying before the committee, FAA administrator Randy Babbitt urged Congress to pass the reauthorization bill and implement the new NextGen technology, which uses satellites instead of radar to track planes more precisely. Babbitt argued that NextGen will allow the FAA to better analyze safety risks and prevent accidents. “Continuing to develop and deploy NextGen is central to our ability to meet the demands of the future,” he said.

Babbitt also stressed the economic benefit of implementing the new technology. “We all understand that the challenges of implementing NextGen and improving the safety and efficiency of aviation come at a time, unfortunately, when tough investment choices will have to be made. I plan to continue to make the case that investment in aviation is important, not only to airlines and passengers and pilots… but to the strength of the overall economy,” he said.

Several airlines, including Southwest and JetBlue, have already begun to test the NextGen technology.

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