May 25, 2011
The Senate Aviation Operations, Safety and Security Subcommittee held a hearing Tuesday on air traffic control safety oversight. Lawmakers heard from FAA Administrator Babbitt, DOT Inspector General Scovel and NATCA President Paul Rinaldi.
During the hearing, Senate Commerce Committee leadership highlighted the need for the passage of a multiyear FAA reauthorization bill. Full committee Ranking Member Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) said that she hopes the Senate and House can come together during the next month to pass a bill. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) stated, “We keep dithering around and not funding the next steps in aviation.”
Babbitt highlighted the need for the passage of a multiyear FAA Reauthorization bill with “sufficient funding.” He noted that FAA’s “tremendous responsibility” requires the support of a multiyear bill. Babbitt also warned lawmakers of the long-term impacts of delaying infrastructure projects.
Full committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller, IV (D-W.Va.) asked Babbitt what would happen at FAA if funding levels were dialed back to the 2008 levels, as written in the House version of the FAA reauthorization bill, stating, “Believe me, I’m not going to let us do that.” Babbitt told Rockefeller that he “will not budget safety” and therefore will use available funds to maintain current level of aviation safety, however that will mean that other programs will suffer. He further noted the enormous financial impact of delaying the implementation of NextGen as he urged lawmakers to pass a multiyear bill.
Outside of FAA reauthorization discussion, the rest of the hearing focused on the timely topic of air traffic control safety and the issues of fatigue, training and professionalism.
Source: AVIATION NEWS TODAY