Airports across the nation are cutting back on their capital programs, and the industry is anxious for a full reauthorization of a Federal Aviation Administration funding bill rather than settling for topgap extensions. Perhaps the most pressing issues of all are implementing a modern air-traffic control system (NextGen) and finding alternatives to crude-oil-based jet fuels.
Catherine Lang, FAA’s acting associate administrator, told attendees of the American Association of Airport Executives that the Senate is the “wild card” in reauthorizing a four-year bill. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on March 5 approved a bill that would authorize $70 billion for FAA over the 2009-2012 period. It includes $16.2 billion for FAA’s Airport Improvement Program, which provides grants to fund runways, taxiways and other infrastructure. Under the bill, AIP would receive $3.9 billion in 2009, with $100-million annual increases after that, topping out at $4.2 billion in 2012.