Ground-Based Air Traffic Management

Floor Speech

Date: Dec. 9, 2021
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. DAVIDS of Kansas. Madam Speaker, I rise today to engage with my colleague, Representative Rick Larsen, the Chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation.

I thank Representative Larsen for his hard work to ensure that aviation priorities were included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. I am concerned about the many ground-based air traffic management systems that are now operating well beyond their planned service life. This includes the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) network of more than 2,700 navigation and landing systems located at more than 1,500 sites in all 50 states. For the last 20 years, the FAA has been systematically dedicated to the implementation of NextGen to enable more efficient flight operations in the National Airspace System. During this period, investment has shifted away from legacy ground-based air traffic control infrastructure. It is important for us all to recognize that aging electronic systems cannot be sustained indefinitely. I am concerned that accelerating rates of component failures combined with parts obsolescence creates a risk of field failures that would threaten aviation safety and the flying public.

I am pleased that Division J, Title VIII of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provides $5 billion over 5 years for the FAA's Facilities and Equipment account. Included in this amount is funding to address investment and modernization shortfalls in ground-based aviation infrastructure, including landing and navigational aids. These systems are critical to maintaining safety in the national airspace and providing operational resiliency.

Representative Larsen, I am glad that the bill reflects our shared priorities of providing more funding to the FAA's Facilities and Equipment budget and I want to be certain that a proportionate amount is spent on modernization of crucial infrastructure, such as lighting and landing systems. Is it your understanding that this is consistent with the intent of the committee? Can we continue to work to ensure that the U.S. Department of Transportation's 2022 spend plan reflects these congressional priorities?

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