Tags: aviation | congressional funding | faa

More Congressional Funding Needed to Accelerate Aviation Infrastructure

More Congressional Funding Needed to Accelerate Aviation Infrastructure
(Nikolai Sorokin/Dreamstime.com)

Tuesday, 16 July 2019 02:34 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Since the Wright Brothers first defied gravity in 1903, American ingenuity and leadership in aviation has been unparalleled. Our air superiority has been critical to the success of the United States, both militarily and economically.

This nation’s accomplishments in engineering and commercial aviation have also provided Americans with the ability to travel both domestically and abroad, shrinking the world around us.

However, the experiences of seamless and stress-free (even luxurious) air travel are long gone. Today, too often, we are instead now faced with stifling lines, inadequate security systems, overcrowded airports, frustrating delays, and frequent system shutdowns. Sadly, during the last government shutdown — now almost commonplace due Congressional dysfunction — air traffic controllers were forced to work for weeks without pay.

Due to all of these inefficiencies, the financial burden the airlines are forced to absorb is massive, and passengers forfeit billions of dollars a year in lost productivity.

Unquestionably, the national airspace is rapidly growing more crowded and it is imperative the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) be provided the tools to keep pace with transportation and security needs by Congress. A failure to do so risks the economic benefits of air travel, for both airplanes and drones, not to mention the impressive safety record for American aviation.

Congress must come together to pass legislation to improve the FAA’s capabilities and increase funding, allowing the agency to more rapidly improve its services. In other words, enough of the series of months-long budget extensions that keep FAA (and every other federal agency) guessing on their funding levels.

One important priority for the FAA is the increased use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) (a.k.a. drones). In the U.S., drone traffic has tripled in the last three years, with over one million drones now registered with the FAA. Companies such as Amazon, UPS and FedEx are investing in drone delivery service capabilities. Local governments are increasing drone use for surveying and security purposes, and farmers are following suit, using this new technology to improve irrigation and food production.

Just how prevalent are drones in American airspace? Well, today there are 1.3 million drones now registered with the FAA, up from about 470,000, just three years ago, in 2016. Surely, a great concern for the FAA are the almost daily examples of drones violating safety protocols in our airspace.

To be fair, the FAA is trying to meet the demand of modern air travel.

For example, the Next Generation Air Transportation System or Next Gen, is one way the FAA is working to modernize how air traffic systems operate. This system creates more efficient flight paths for commercial planes, making routes more efficient, which saves fuel and reduces the carbon footprint of every flight. NextGen has also published over 9,000 performance-based navigation procedures and routes, which can help improve air travel experiences.

But as impressive as NextGen is, the inability of Congress to continuously fund the FAA is setting the agency back when it comes to safety. According to a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in 2015, FAA’s conversion to a satellite-based airplane navigation system was stalled by uncertainty over the agency's funding in recent years. The GAO found that the FAA’s “ability to perform its mission has been affected by budget uncertainty resulting from the 2013 government shutdown, sequestration, 2011 authorization lapse, continuing resolutions, and multiple short-term reauthorizations.”

Finally, this is also a national security issue, as a veteran I am proud of the contributions our military makes to keep our nation secure. However, we know that threats are continuing to evolve and that cyberattacks are on the rise. System threats and shutdowns must be addressed and the aviation sector must keep pace with the protective actions other technology companies are taking in this space. Simply put, the FAA must be at the forefront of cybersecurity — the risk of hackers using technology to endanger flights in midair cannot be tolerated.

There can be no question about it; it is imperative that Congress fund the FAA to get our aging and failing infrastructure up to date. If our leaders on Capitol Hill cannot, President Donald Trump should consider drastic actions to get the job done. The time has come to bring American air travel into the 21st century.

Christopher Neiweem is the Founder of Neiweem Group, an Iraq War Veteran, and Political Strategist. He has testified in both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate as an expert witness numerous times in front many congressional committees. These topics range from defense, veterans, commerce, education, and military personnel. He regularly appears on Fox News Channel and other news shows as a guest commentator and has worked on several political campaigns. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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Since the Wright Brothers first defied gravity in 1903, American ingenuity and leadership in aviation has been unparalleled. Our air superiority has been critical to the success of the United States, both militarily and economically.
aviation, congressional funding, faa
Tuesday, 16 July 2019 02:34 PM
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