From the beginning of the year, AOPA has urged the adoption of an FAA reauthorization measure to ensure the stable funding needed for important modernization efforts to move forward. Now Senators Rockefeller, Hutchison, Dorgan, and Demint have introduced legislation in the Senate that would fund the FAA for two years. We applaud Senator Rockefeller, the Senate Commerce Committee leadership, and all committee members for taking action, and we look forward to participating in discussions about the ultimate direction this legislation takes.
During discussions earlier this year, Senator Rockefeller expressed his strong desire to advance modernization of the air traffic control system in the United States. AOPA supports modernization and believes that there are near-term actions available to the FAA that will improve access to airports throughout the country by more fully utilizing the satellite based technology available now. We also believe in developing a realistic timetable for deploying ground-based receivers that are the foundation for making best use of satellite-based navigation and air traffic control technologies. Deployment of this ground-based equipment, combined with swift certification of ADS-B equipment for aircraft, will put us on course for meaningful modernization over the course of the next few years.
While this legislation clearly moves us closer to achieving much-needed modernization, AOPA believes that a longer term funding package based firmly on existing, proven funding mechanisms offers the best assurance of achieving modernization swiftly and efficiently.
Because full modernization is unlikely to be completed within two years, the need to seek funding could delay or derail modernization efforts midstream, ultimately raising the price tag for completing needed improvements. At the same time, leaving open the possibility of creating and implementing new funding mechanisms, as proposed by budget officials within the Administration, could destabilize funding just when a steady source of revenue is needed most. One need only observe the uncertain nature of funding in countries that employ user fee-based mechanisms to see how easily economic fluctuations can destabilize funding for air traffic control.
We look forward to discussing these concerns and hope that this measure can be advanced quickly, allowing time for a Conference Committee to reconcile the Senate and House measures and the full Congress to pass an FAA reauthorization measure this year.