US legislators prepare extension to clear way for long-term FAA bill

The US House of Representatives will take up a bipartisan short-term extension of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) programmes today in order to conclude negotiations on a long-term FAA bill.
The decision to take up the issue reflects a bipartisan agreement reached last week over controversial labour provisions that have blocked passage of a long term FAA bill. Once endorsed by the House and Senate, the agreement is expected to result in more-stable FAA budgets and stronger policy direction for the agency including much needed momentum for upgrading the nation’s air-traffic control system.
“After Speaker Boehner and Senator Reid reached agreement Friday on labor provisions to require unprecedented reform and increased oversight of the National Mediation Board (NMB), I agreed to bring up this extension to provide the time necessary to complete work on a few remaining issues and comply with notification requirements for considering legislation,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John L. Mica (R-FL).
“We must bring to conclusion a long-term FAA bill to help create jobs, modernise our nation’s aviation infrastructure and air traffic control system, and streamline and reform FAA programmes as soon as possible.”
The short-term bill, to be introduced later today, is a simple extension of FAA programmes until February 17, 2012, and contains no additional policy provisions. This will mark the 23rd time FAA programmes have been extended since the expiration of the last long-term FAA law in 2007.
The lack of long-term budget guidelines from Congress has been blamed for the lack of confidence by U.S. airlines to invest heavily in equipment necessary to make the shift from aging ground-based, traffic-control systems to satellite-based networks.