Today the House of Representatives passed H.R. 658, a bill reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through Fiscal Year 2015. Within the Science, Space, and Technology Committee's jurisdiction, the bill authorizes $168 million annually through 2015 for the agency's Research, Engineering, and Development account. Chairman Ralph Hall (R-TX) and Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Chairman Steven Palazzo (R-MS) were the two Republican conferees representing the Committee in negotiating a final agreement on the bill.
The FAA underpins our nation's economy and helps sustain a high quality of life, enabling people to travel safely, reliably, conveniently, and relatively inexpensively to virtually every corner of the nation and the world. A robust research and development program is fundamental to FAA's role. The NextGen program, which is expected to cost well over $20 billion when completed, will modernize our air traffic control system to accommodate ever-increasing numbers of flights, but doing so safely, efficiently, and with less fuel burn."
The research and development portion of this bill is fiscally responsible and provides crucial research and development dollars. These are the kinds of investments we must make to ensure America continues to lead the world in innovative air traffic control technologies, and to enable safe and efficient air travel."
H.R. 658, the first FAA reauthorization bill Congress has passed in eight years, was approved today by a vote of 248-169. The legislation is expected to be considered by the Senate early next week. Among other things, the bill's Research, Engineering and Development title provides the FAA new policy direction related to research on unmanned aircraft systems, developing technologies to modernize our air traffic control system, and ongoing research enabling safer, more reliable, and more fuel efficient aircraft.