Senate's FAA Funding Bill is Good News/Bad News

On the plus side, the bill introduced last week by the Senate Commerce Committee would fund the FAA for two years-with a budget of some $35 billion-and without user fees. The bill also includes a mandate to move forward with implementing the NextGen modernization of the air traffic control system. The down side is the term of the agreement-only two years. Critics among GA advocacy groups have expressed concern that the time frame is not sufficient for implementing the sweeping changes needed to get NextGen on track, and the funding ambiguities could lead to further challenges on implementing user fees to pay the costs. AOPA President Craig Fuller wrote in a message to members, "Because full modernization is unlikely to be completed within two years, the need to seek funding could delay or derail modernization efforts midstream, ultimately raising the price tag for completing the needed improvements." The next step for the Senate bill is a vote, then a conference committee that will attempt to reconcile differences between House and Senate versions of FAA funding legislation. Finally, the bill would go before President Obama for his signature.