By Adrian Schofield
February 15, 2011
Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) is proposing to add a clause to the FAA reauthorization bill that would provide grants and loan guarantees for aircraft operators to equip for the NextGen program.
Lipinski is one of the minority members of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee. He has not said how he will attempt to include his proposal in the reauthorization bill that will soon be introduced by Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.). Unless Mica decides to incorporate it, the proposal will likely be offered as an amendment. While there is broad bipartisan support for NextGen, authorizing new spending could be a tough sell in the House.
Under the proposal, the FAA would be authorized to issue grants of up to 20% of the cost of equipping aircraft for automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B). The proposal specifies ADS-B “out,” which will be used to improve surveillance for controllers.
A second part of the proposal would authorize loan guarantees of up to 80% of equipage costs. Under certain conditions, the remaining 20% could be met by the direct grant.
The loan guarantees would be for 10-15 years, with an initial three-year payment deferral.
General aviation and commercial operators would be eligible, as well as private sector equipage banks or funds, aviation authorities, aviation associations or co-ops, and avionics manufacturers that want to offer direct-to-consumer financing.
The three-year loan deferral will be extended one year at a time if the FAA fails to meet certain metrics that would indicate that NextGen equipage is paying off. The third major part of the Lipinski proposal calls for a review of these metrics to be conducted annually after three years, by a new “multi-stakeholder oversight board.”
This board would also track the development and timetable of NextGen deployment. It would report regularly to Congress on FAA’s progress, and the rate of user equipage.