Trade groups to Obama: $4 billion needed to get FAA plan off the ground
A coalition of 11 trade associations representing the aviation industry is asking President Obama and Congress for $4 billion in stimulus funding to “jumpstart” the industry’s role in implementing the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) plan to modernize the nation’s air transportation infrastructure.
In a letter to Congress, the trade groups assert that receiving $4 billion of the estimated $20 billion needed to upgrade aircraft with new technology as part of FAA’s Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) plan would “dramatically” expedite the plan’s schedule.
Citing FAA methodology, the trade associations estimate that the $4 billion in stimulus funding would help create 77,000 “high-paying” jobs, improve safety and security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, among other benefits to the nation’s air transportation system. Based on FAA estimates, the letter notes that full implementation of NextGen could reduce greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft by up to 12 percent by 2025.
“Unfortunately, the FAA’s current plan doesn’t achieve significant investment return for the aviation transportation system until 2025,” the letter states. “This is due, in large part, to the challenge of aligning investments in air and ground infrastructure and across the stakeholders – the ‘chicken and egg’ syndrome.”
With $4 billion in stimulus funding, the letter adds, “Significant benefits that FAA and Congress believe will be realized over the next 17 years could actually happen in [President] Obama’s first term.”
Technology would reduce delays, fuel burn
According to the letter, the stimulus money would help the commercial and general aviation industry upgrade aircraft with onboard avionics, electronic flight bags, cockpit displays, surface moving maps and software, as part of the NextGen plan.
The upgrade would include the implementation of technology known as automated dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B), which “would provide controllers with more precise aircraft position information,” enabling “closer separation standards and more efficient use of airspace, improving the passenger experience and economics, while also reducing emissions.” In conjunction with other new components, ADS-B “has the ability to reduce the fuel burn of every arrival by up to 2,000 pounds.”
Such technology comes at a steep price, the letter adds.
“In today’s difficult economic environment, the cost for these critical avionics components is prohibitive – especially the difficult and expensive process of retrofitting the current fleet,” the letter asserts.
The trade groups note that they expect FAA to request stimulus funding of its own to accelerate the NextGen plan.
“Thus, our proposal for stimulus funding should dovetail well with FAA’s NextGen request,” the letter says.