After five years of delays and 23 temporary extensions, the U.S. Senate passed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 on February 6. Airlines for America President Nicholas Calio praised this development as a critical step in boosting the American aviation sector and accelerating the deployment of NextGen air-traffic management technologies.
“This bill saw many extensions, yet thanks to the leaders in both the House and the Senate, today we have a strong, multi-year bill,” Calio said in a statement. “We commend Congress for passing a responsible bill that recognizes that commercial aviation is central to America’s global competitiveness and a key enabler of job growth and U.S. productivity,”
If signed by President Obama, the bill will provide the Federal Aviation Administration with $63 billion through fiscal 2015 to subsidize air-traffic control modernization projects, safety programs and related operations. The bipartisan bill also reiterates the U.S.’ stance on the EU emissions trading scheme and urges Congress “to use all ‘political, diplomatic and legal tools’ to ensure the scheme is not applied to U.S. carriers,” according to a press release. Instead, the U.S. government endorses a global approach to sustainability developed through the International Civil Aviation Organization, an approach backed by the International Air Transport Association and other leading authorities.
The FAA bill also maintains the status quo on aviation taxes, which have doubled over the last two decades. “Holding the line on federal aviation taxes and fees paid by airlines and their customers enables carriers to work toward being sustainably profitable, so they can maintain jobs and service to communities and invest in their product,” Calio stated.
The legislation also keeps FAA employees in work. In July, a bipartisan dispute led to the 13-day partial shutdown of the FAA, causing nearly 4,000 airline workers to be furloughed. The FAA’s partial shutdown also temporarily affected the renovations of air traffic control towers at leading airports around the U.S.