US AIRLINES LOOK SET TO SELF FUND ONBOARD AIR-TRAFFIC CONTROL EQUIPMENT

Dino D'Amore
By Dino D'Amore February 4, 2011 14:08

US AIRLINES LOOK SET TO SELF FUND ONBOARD AIR-TRAFFIC CONTROL EQUIPMENT

The long-delayed FAA reauthorisation legislation, which should receive Senate approval later this month, seeks to allocate nearly $8 billion for airport construction and is being pitched by Democratic leaders as a job-creation measure. It also continues government support for certain ground stations needed to modernize the FAA’s air-traffic control network.

But the Senate bill doesn’t include significant funding to help airlines shoulder the multibillion-dollar cost of installing onboard equipment required to switch to a more-capable, satellite-based navigation and traffic-control system. By replacing reliance on ground radars and other, often decades-old equipment, the goal is to create a modernized system that federal and industry officials say will lead to more-efficient routes, fuel savings, environmental benefits and fewer delays for passengers.

The issue is coming to a head as the White House prepares to release a proposed budget that airline officials increasingly fear won’t include aid for the airplane equipment.

The FAA, for its part, is looking to show industry skeptics that although direct federal aid remains severely limited, the eventual benefits of airline expenditure in this area are likely to be significant. The FAA yesterday announced it would spend $4.2 million to equip a number of JetBlue aircraft with onboard equipment, as part of a program designed to convince other carriers that day-to-day operational savings justify such investments.

Dino D'Amore
By Dino D'Amore February 4, 2011 14:08
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