May 9, 2011
After years of work by lawmakers on Capitol Hill to finalize a long-range funding plan for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), both the House of Representatives and the Senate have approved FAA reauthorization measures – but there are differences between them.
“The authorized funding levels that are in the House bill are well below what the president forecasted in his budget,” FAA chief Randy Babbitt told the Atlanta Aero Club May 5. “I’m concerned about the funding levels proposed by the House and I’m concerned…they would degrade the safe and efficient movement of traffic as we know it today and would have an even greater impact as we move into the future.”
It is an argument Babbitt and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood made in an editorial the two co- authored, which was recently published at Politico.com and other online news outlets the same day that Babbitt made his case before the friendly crowd in Atlanta.
“It’s difficult to manage large-scale, long-term programs when there’s only enough money to pour 50 feet of concrete at a time,” Babbitt and LaHood wrote. “And it costs a lot more that way — meaning we get less bang for the buck.” It was a point Babbitt repeated verbatim in Atlanta.
He pressed that point before the Atlanta Aero Club by quoting NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen: “You build two miles of highway, a car can go two miles. You build two miles of railroad tracks, a train can go two miles. You build two miles of runway, you can go anywhere in the world.”
NextGen, Babbitt continued, will save time and money for all aviators. After all, NextGen technologies like Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) have already proven their worth by cutting the accident rate in half after its deployment in Alaska. With proper funding, Babbitt said ADS-B will be rolled out nationwide in 2013.