U.S. House Passes FAA Reauthorization Bill

The bill includes funding for the agency's NextGen initiative and several air safety provisions, including a requirement to study and update flight crew fatigue regulations.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 915, the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2009, by a vote of 277-136 yesterday. This sends the bill, which includes $53.5 billion for FAA's capital programs from FY2010 through FY2012, to the U.S. Senate for consideration. Funding amounts are: $12.3 billion for the Airport Improvement Program; $10.1 billion for FAA facilities and equipment; $30.3 billion for FAA operations; and $794 million for research, engineering, and development.

The bill contains money to accelerate implementation of FAA's big modernization program -- the Next Generation Air Transportation System, known as NextGen. "I cannot stress enough the importance of moving this legislation quickly, as we are already almost two years behind schedule. Airport development capital projects and key NextGen programs need the stability that a multi-year bill provides," said U.S. Rep. James L. Oberstar, D-Minn., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. "Modernizing our air transportation system is a national priority. This bill provides historic funding levels to do just that."

Aviation safety provisions in the bill include a requirement for FAA to increase the number of aviation safety inspectors, creating an independent Aviation Safety Whistleblower Investigation Office within FAA, funding for runway safety programs, additional inspections of overseas aircraft repair stations, and directing FAA to study and update its regulations on flight crew members' fatigue.

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