FAA future set, but for how long

HOUSE and Senate negotiators in the US have agreed on a bill, which will provide the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with operating authority for the next four years.

The bill, which aims to boost the agency’s air traffic modernisation programme, gives the FAA a budget of US$63 billion until 2015.

On 22 July the FAA went into ‘partial shutdown’ after the US Congress adjourned without extending the FAA’s funding when both sides failed to reach an agreement.

The new bill includes compromises on long-running divisions on areas including air service subsidies for rural communities, safety regulation of cargo shipments of lithium batteries and rules governing the formation of airline and railroad unions.

At least $1 billion of the budget will be used to shift the FAA from World War II air traffic control systems to modern day GPS technology.

Final passage of the bill by the House and Senate is expected sometime in the next two weeks. The FAA’s long-term operating authority expired in 2007. Since then it has continued under 23 short-term extensions.

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