The House and Senate approved a six-month extension to the Federal Aviation Administration authorization on March 18. The current authorization would have expired on March 31.

The bill provides a total of $3.9 billion for the airport improvement program for fiscal 2009 and also extends the aviation excise taxes, which support the Airport and Airway Trust Fund, through Sept. 30.

Lawmakers on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee say they hope the seven-month extension gives them the time they need to work for passage of a new four-year, $70-billion authorization bill for the agency. As a first step, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee reported out a bill authorizing aviation programs through fiscal 2012 on March 5.