The House aviation subcommittee has approved legislation that would increase the federal Aviation Improvement Program to $4 billion in fiscal 2007, from less than $3.4 billion this year. The bill, which the panel cleared on May 14 by a voice vote, would succeed AIR-21, the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century.

(Photo courtesy of office of Rep. John Mica)

The House subcommittee's bill, titled "Flight 100--the Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act," sets funding for AIP, which provides construction grants, at $3.4 billion for 2004, $3.6 billion for 2005, $3.8 billion for 2006 and $4 billion for 2007.

Aviation subcommittee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) said his panel's bill "continues the procedural protections that ensure that all the taxes and revenues coming into the aviation trust fund from passengers and pilots are fully spent and that airport improvements and air traffic control modernization are fully funded."

In the Senate, the version approved May 1 by the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee is a three-year bill, providing $3.4 billion for AIP in 2004, $3.5 billion in 2005 and $3.6 billion in 2006. The Senate measure also includes a $500-million-a-year airport security fund. The House subcommittee approved the security fund at the same $500-million annual level, but as part of a separate aviation security bill it passed on May 14. Mica says the aviation and security measures could be merged into a single bill on the House floor.

The Dept. of Transportation's proposal would hold AIP at $3.4 billion over the 2004-2006 period. AIP's appropriation for 2003 is about $3.38 billion.

All three proposals have provisions to speed environmental reviews of major airport projects.

The next stop for the House legislation would be a vote by the full Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.