Obama’s Infrastructure Plan Would Make Skies Friendlier for Air Travelers
Technology that controls airplanes crisscrossing the skies over the United States would get a big funding lift under an infrastructure improvement proposal unveiled Monday by President Obama that’s aimed at bolstering the weak economy.
At the outset, Obama’s six-year plan would earmark $500 billion to upgrade American roads, rails and runways and, in turn, would create an unknown number of jobs.
On the air travel front, Obama said during a Labor Day speech in Milwaukee that his infrastructure package would “advance a next-generation air traffic control system to reduce travel time and delays for American travelers—something I think folks across the political spectrum could agree on.”
The proposal would help move airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration from a national ground-based radar surveillance system to a more accurate satellite-based surveillance system.
The tech overhaul, which already is under way, represents “the backbone of a broader effort to reduce delays for passengers, increase fuel efficiency for carriers, and cut airport noise for those who live and work near airports,” the White House said.
"We appreciate the recognition in President Obama’s infrastructure announcement of the critical role aviation plays in the nation’s transportation system. AOPA will work to support the president’s infrastructure program to ensure the monies are used effectively at airports across the country and to advance the modernization of our air traffic control system as part of the FAA’s NextGen initiative.”
The NextGen program carries an estimated price tag of $40 billion. NextGen stands for Next Generation Air Transportation System. Federal watchdogs have said the initiative is in danger of running billions of dollars over budget.
This summer, air traffic controllers in Alaska officially began using NextGen technology known as Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B).Continued on the next page