Apparently the airline industry is having mixed fortunes in its quest to get NextGen equipage funding from Congress. One of the industry’s main lobbying efforts right now is convincing lawmakers to allocate funding for this purpose in job growth legislation they are working on. There is quite a sense of urgency about this, since they failed to get significant NextGen money included in the original economic stimulus bill. Airline groups were quite annoyed about this, but the general consensus was that they didn’t present a good enough case on the Hill.
So this time around, there has been a much more concerted effort. Several aviation groups have written to lawmakers urging them to include NextGen funding (aimed at ATC capabilities as well as user equipage) in job growth legislation.
But will they be any more successful this time? I’m hearing that there is a fair bit of skepticism on the House side, and leading staffers are saying they still don’t see enough of a clear case. Apparently Aerospace Industries Associatoin head Marion Blakey will be talking to senior lawmakers this week to remind him of the importance of NextGen funding.
On the Senate side, the picture is brighter. Rumor has it the Commerce Committee has included NextGen funding in the list of recommendations it has submitted to Senate leadership as job growth priorities. Meanwhile, the airport industry is separately pushing its own case for money to be included for airport infrastructure projects. This was also part of the Commerce Committee’s priority list, and it seems as if the House is also amenable. Lawmakers have apparently asked FAA for a list of airport projects that could be approved fairly quickly – which is definitely a good sign.