Update, 310PM PST: The Senate voted to pass the Bill, 75-20. Now over to the White House, where labor urges a veto.
At long, long last, it looks like Congress is going to approve long-term funding for the Federal Aviation Administration. Included is funding for the Next Generation Air Traffic Management system.
This is the first time since 2007 the FAA will have some long-term funding. To say that this is about time is an understatement.
The US ATM is rooted in the 1960s. That it hasn’t been updated in these decades is a national scandal. Air traffic has increased many times over. Airlines continue to fly routings that do nothing but burn excess fuel, add costs and contribute to emissions.
While some claim NextGen will reduce delays–and given ground congestion at airports, which we consider a separate issue, we’re not sure this is will solve delays–we view NextGen as making flying more efficient. Continuous descents from cruising altitudes to landing will cut time and save fuel. En-route efficiencies will reduce costs to the airlines and be more environmentally friendly.
Airlines should welcome NextGen for these efficiencies. So should critics who do nothing but criticize NextGen and government dawdling (which certainly is valid criticism) but who otherwise offer nothing constructive to get the job done.
The House of Representatives has passed the FAA Reauthorization Act. The Senate should follow suit. And the President should sign the legislation. Airbus and Boeing consider improving ATM worldwide to be so important that they collaborate on ATM, setting aside their often bitter rivalries. The US should follow the Airbus-Boeing example. It’s time to put the national interests of bringing the FAA into the 21st Century above political interests. It’s time to move on.