Funding for the FAA will be extended through March 31, 2016, under legislation passed by the House and Senate just ahead of the Sept. 30 deadline.
The “Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2015” was passed by the Senate on Sept. 29, just one day after the House passed the bill on a voice vote. It will now go to President Obama, who is expected to sign the measure into law.
Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pennsylvania), who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon), who serves as the Ranking Member on the Committee, have both said that this will be the only extension of FAA funding before a longer term reauthorization measure is put in place. The current FAA authorization, which expired Sept. 30, was enacted following 23 consecutive short-term extensions that stretched from September 2007 to February 2012.
Under the measure passed by the House and Senate, the FAA will receive $4.87 billion for operations, $1.68 billion for Airport Improvement Program grants, $1.3 billion for the construction of navigational facilities and equipment, and $78.4 million for research and engineering, including money for ongoing testing of possible replacements for leaded avgas. The authorization extension also allows the FAA to continue contracting for non-FAA operated control towers, collecting aviation taxes, and spending money.
“We’re pleased that the FAA will stay open for business and that Reps. Shuster and DeFazio are committed to getting a reauthorization package completed in the next six months,” said Jim Coon, senior vice president of government affairs for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). “AOPA will continue to be actively engaged in that process and will do all we can to have third-class medical reform included in reauthorization.”
He added that pilots “can also count on us to stand firm on our position that user fees for general aviation are unacceptable in any form.”