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Congressman Salazar Champions Aviation Win for Colorado

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC


Colorado's Rural and Mountain Airports Score Major Victories

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressman John T. Salazar announced today that Colorado and the 3rd Congressional District scored major victories in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization that passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 267-151.

"A safe and efficient aviation network is vital to all Coloradans, but especially to those who reside in the 3rd Congressional District and rely on small regional airports to remain connected to the rest of the state and nation," said Congressman Salazar, the only Coloradan on the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee and a member of the Subcommittee on Aviation.

Congressman Salazar secured two major initiatives to ensure that Colorado's future aviation needs are addressed. As the author of H.R. 3004, the Rural Aviation Improvement Act, Congressman Salazar worked to secure several key aspects of his legislation in the FAA Reauthorization helping Essential Air Service (EAS) airports in Colorado and across the nation. EAS airports serve small communities nationwide, including three in Colorado all located within the 3rd Congressional District in Alamosa, Pueblo, and Cortez.

The EAS language secured in the FAA reauthorization:

Repeals a provision in the 2002 FAA reauthorization requiring a community to pay a portion of the cost for its limited commercial air service;
Requires the Secretary of Transportation to notify EAS communities at risk of termination 45 days before issuing a final decision and establishes procedures to avoid termination;
Establishes an Office of Rural Aviation within the Office of the Secretary of Transportation.

Also of significant concern to Coloradans is the seasonal demand that has steadily increased at Colorado mountain airports during the winter. Severe winter storms and mountainous terrain can leave onboard aircraft radar obstructed.

Congressman Salazar secured a program to provide increased radar surveillance for aircraft flying in mountainous areas. The pilot program utilizes a system called Wide Area Multilateration, first pioneered in Juneau, Alaska, to improve efficiency, arrival rates and safety for those traveling to and from mountain airports. Congressman Mark Udall joined Congressman Salazar in the effort through his position on the Science and Technology Committee, which had joint jurisdiction on the Mountain Radar project.

"This is a great win for Colorado. As a member of the Transportation and Aviation Committees, I am proud of an FAA Reauthorization that will benefit Colorado's rural communities and mountain airports," explained Congressman Salazar. "This bill assures our EAS airports in Cortez, Alamosa, and Pueblo of the funding necessary to remain operational and provides improved radar coverage for aircraft at our mountain airports to improve safety and efficiency."

The FAA reauthorization also provides a passenger facility charge of $7.00 to help airports meet increased capital needs and significant increases in the Airport Improvement Program, which benefits smaller airports that rely on the program for funding.

"The entire Colorado aviation community owes Congressman John Salazar our thanks for his leadership and support of HR 2881," explained Travis Vallin, Director of Aeronautics at the Colorado Department of Transportation. "This bill will provide increased funding to local governments throughout Colorado to maintain and develop their airports which serve as critical transportation facilities and serve as a cornerstone for economic growth. Congressman Salazar has also championed the efforts to provide increased radar surveillance coverage in the Colorado Rocky Mountains which will increase safety and capacity for 10 mountain airports. HR 2881 will also provide increased funding for the Essential Air Service Program to ensure affordable commercial air service to rural Colorado."

Following the broad bi-partisan passage in the House, the FAA Reauthorization moves to the Untied States Senate. The Senate has not yet scheduled a date for action.

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