ROME – State and local leaders met at the newest addition to the Griffiss International Airport on Thursday to call for the need for Congress to pass a new, long-term federal aviation bill.
Current funding for the Federal Aviation Administration expires on September 2015, said U.S. Representative Richard Hanna, R-Barnavel during a press conference held at the airport’s terminal building.
He suggested that Congress approve a new bill reauthorizing the FAA and updating the nation’s aviation policies.
“We are simply asking the federal government and congress to do its job and find funding for all the infrastructure across the united states and in particular the FAA bill,” Hanna said.
Priorities for the aviation bill include:
* Maintain stable and sufficient funding for the Airport Improvement Program. Griffiss International Airport received $6.3 million from the program in 2014.
* Expand test site authorization for Griffiss’ Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance, known as NUAIR, to 2020 and create a competitive grant program to support research at federal test sites including Griffiss.
NUAIR is only one of six test sites nation-wide where unmanned craft can be tested for commercial use.
* Ensure no shutdowns in air traffic control services at Griffiss or anywhere else in upstate New York.
* Reform the medical certification process for pilot licensing by permitting a driver’s license instead of a third class medical certification, which would allow more pilots to fly in aircraft under 6,000 pounds and carry up to five passengers.
Senator Joseph Griffo, R-Rome, said Hanna’s vision for long-term funding for airports like Griffiss will foster success not only in Rome but across the entire country.
“What he’s proposing here today is a reasonable approach that makes a lot of sense,” Griffo said. “To provide long-term sustainability, to let people know what to expect from year to year and to make the proper investments.”
Rome Mayor Joseph Fusco Jr. said the proposed long-term bill would only enhance the “critical mass” at Griffiss Business and Technology Park, which he said is on the leading edge of some of the newest, leading technology.