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Udall Bill on Aviation R&D Moves Forward

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC


Today, the House Science and Technology Committee approved legislation sponsored by Congressman Mark Udall (D-Eldorado Springs) that will reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration's existing research and development programs, as well as establishing several new research initiatives.

The measure, H.R. 2698, the Federal Aviation Research and Development Reauthorization Act of 2007, was passed by the Space & Aeronautics Subcommittee last week, where Udall serves as chairman. The bill is aimed at improving the safety, capacity and efficiency of the nation's air transportation system to meet expected air traffic demands of the future.

A key feature of H.R. 2698 is a set of provisions to strengthen the Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO), which is charged with planning and developing the Next Generation Air Transportation System, (NextGen). NextGen is envisioned as a major redesign of the current air transportation system, which is increasingly inefficient and near capacity. NextGen would entail precision satellite navigation; digital, networked communications; an integrated aviation weather system; layered, adaptive security and more.

"H.R. 2698 will help ensure that the FAA has the tools it needs to keep the nation's air transportation system safe, efficient, and environmentally friendly," said Udall.

H.R. 2698 includes provisions that require:

Each participating agency or department to identify a senior official to be in charge of its activities in support of the NextGen initiative;

An integrated plan with date-specific timetables for implementation of NextGen capabilities;

OMB to coordinate each agency or department's budget in support of the NextGen initiative;

JPDO to develop contingency plans for dealing with degradation of the NextGen system due to a natural disaster, major equipment failure, or act of terrorism.

The bill authorizes $1.88 billion for the FAA's R&D programs for fiscal years 2008-2011 and it would require the FAA to work with NASA and the U.S. Climate Change Science Program to establish a research initiative on the impact of aviation on the climate. It also establishes research programs on runway materials; design for certification, impact of space weather on aviation, and technologies for use of unleaded aviation gas in existing piston aircraft engines. Finally, the bill establishes an undergraduate research grant program in FAA-related research areas.

"The nation's air transportation system is critical to our economic well-being, our international competitiveness, and our quality of life," Udall said. "I believe that this bill will keep the FAA's R&D enterprise healthy and productive."

The legislation is supported by the Colorado Department of Transportation, as well as the Aerospace Industries Association, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the Airports Council International, the American Meteorological Society, and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

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