Committee on Science and Technology
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Press Releases :: February 16, 2011

FAA Research and Development and Next Generation Air Traffic System Important to Future of Nation, Subcommittee Democrats Say

(Washington, DC) – The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology’s Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics held a hearing today to review the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) portfolio of research and development (R&D) programs and examine priorities and challenges.  The Committee is preparing to reauthorize FAA R&D and NextGen initiatives as part of the broader congressional consideration of the FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2011, H.R. 658.         

R&D is an essential component of FAA’s ability to provide solutions to emerging aviation industry challenges, such as developing the Next Generation Air Transportation System or NextGen.  NextGen is intended to carry this nation forward by providing a safe, efficient and environmentally sound air transportation system.  In response to recent proposals to cut spending on some FAA activities, including R&D, Subcommittee Member Marcia Fudge (D-OH) said:

“Some Members of Congress have suggested we reduce or eliminate funding for NextGen and other FAA R&D programs.  I am convinced cutting these programs now would present major concerns for aviation safety in the coming years and push our aviation industry backward instead of moving us forward.  Further, cutting funding now would actually eliminate future opportunities for FAA to save billions of dollars through the agency’s facility consolidation efforts, reductions in fuel consumption, and decreases in engine emissions.  I recognize the need to reduce federal spending and address our deficit.  However, I believe we cannot jeopardize the safety and security of the flying public or the future of the American economy in the process.”

The Subcommittee heard from witnesses from FAA, the Department of Transportation’s Inspector General, the FAA’s R&D advisory council, and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.  The General Aviation community is working with FAA to help transition its piston engine aircraft to non-leaded aviation gasoline.

In his written statement, Acting Ranking Member Jerry Costello (D-IL) stated:

“We must continue to invest in the development of lower-emission and unleaded aviation fuels through the Avgas program.  I will work with you, Chairman Palazzo, to ensure our title of the FAA bill directs the agency to work in cooperation with NASA, industry representatives, manufacturers, fuel producers, and other stakeholders to develop a roadmap for achieving emission reduction goals.

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