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Reliable Funding

Ten years and $6 billion ago, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) began efforts to modernize the air traffic control (ATC) system through NextGen. At the current deployment rate it will be another 10 years and $X billion before major benefits are realized. Today’s air traffic control system relies on the federal budget cycle and regular Congressional reauthorization of the FAA. As such, it has been hampered by budget constraints that have resulted in sequester and furloughs of air traffic controllers. Not knowing the budget from one year to the next prevents FAA executives from delivering a meaningful capital improvement plan, implementing NextGen and from meeting the need to hire additional air traffic controllers.

The Problem: ATC Funding is Tied to Political Gamesmanship

Air traffic controllers are critical safety professionals, and we cannot risk unplanned furloughs. Currently, the FAA is unable to meet hiring needs to replace retiring controllers and accommodate increased travel demand. The 2013 federal sequester led to furloughs and resulted in hundreds of canceled flights and hundreds of thousands of passengers adversely affected by delays and disrupted flights. Air travel is too critical to the global economy and jobs to face funding uncertainty. Further, without reliable funding, the ATC managers cannot invest in necessary technology and rely on WWII-era equipment that contributes to delays that cost passengers and the economy $30 billion annually.

The Solution: Improve Reliability and Planning

Separating ATC management from the federal government and moving it to a not-for-profit organization prevents ATC—and the traveling public—from being treated like a political football. The coalition supports a fair, user-funded model that allows access to capital markets and a reliable and predictable stream of funding that is not subject to governmental budgetary constraints. Reliable access to funding allows ATC managers to adequately staff and invest in NextGen technology to reduce delays, cut emissions and improve the travel experience.

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