Lipinski Urges Passage of Aviation Reauthorization that Will Create Jobs and Reduce Delays Locally and Nationally

Today, Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-3) urged his colleagues to pass the long-term Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization that he helped write to create jobs, save money, and reduce air traffic delays. The bill includes language authored by Rep. Lipinski to expedite the rollout of the NextGen satellite navigation system, which will reduce delays by an estimated 35 percent, save $23 billion, and prevent pollution and noise, both locally and across the nation. It also includes legislation Rep. Lipinski wrote to develop alternative forms of fuel for aircraft to help reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and to promote recycling at airports, which are huge generators of waste.

"After a five-year delay, a long-term reauthorization of the FAA is now within reach," Rep. Lipinski said. "Passage of this measure is of critical importance to the Chicago region, which depends on Midway and O’Hare airports for $45 billion in economic activity and 540,000 jobs. It will also provide grants for which smaller airports can compete, such as Lewis University Airport, which is upgrading its runways and planning for increased utilization to attract new companies, jobs, and economic growth. Aviation delays already cost an estimated $9.4 billion annually, and with the number of passengers expected to increase to 1 billion in less than a decade, they will only get worse unless action is taken. Everyone in northeastern Illinois knows we need to cut down on the delays that plague our airports. This bill is absolutely essential to achieving that goal."

The FAA oversees the planning of the national airport system and provides funding for airport improvements, employs 35,000 air traffic controllers and technicians to guide America’s 50,000 daily flights, and is responsible for regulating the aviation system and certifying America’s pilots, mechanics, and aircraft. The last long-term reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration expired in 2007. Since then, Congressman Lipinski has been pushing to reauthorize the FAA, and voted Tuesday to go to conference to reconcile the differences between the reauthorizations passed by the House and Senate. An agreement was reached last night.

The benefits of NextGen for northeastern Illinois and the country as a whole are many. By replacing the current outdated radar-based navigation system with GPS and other advanced technology, NextGen will help aircraft to fly shorter routes and reduce descent times. This will save about 1.4 billion gallons of fuel through 2018 along with 14 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, and result in less noise for those living near airports. At the same time, more precise routes and descents, along with improved communications through NextGen, will reduce frustrating delays for passengers and businesses and expand the capacity of our airports in the Chicago area and around the country. Total savings by 2018 for airlines, the public, and the FAA are estimated at $23 billion. Rep. Lipinski’s NextGen amendment requires the FAA to develop a plan for a public-private partnership to expedite the equipping of aircraft with NextGen technology.

While federal investments have led to advances, much more work is needed to develop commercially viable forms of aviation fuel that are environmentally friendly and move us away from dependence on foreign oil. Rep. Lipinski’s amendment requires the FAA to continue working with NASA to develop an unleaded fuel for piston-engine aircraft. Almost four decades after unleaded gasoline for automobiles was first introduced, it is time to get rid of lead in aviation fuel. Language he wrote also requires the FAA to work with the private sector, academia, and other government agencies to develop jet fuels from clean alternative sources such as biomass and hydrogen.

U.S. airports generate an estimated 7.5 million pounds of trash every day – as much or more than a mid-size city – yet recent estimates indicate only a fraction is recycled. To increase recycling at airports, Rep. Lipinski authored an amendment that requires airports to study the feasibility and potential cost savings of increasing their recycling whenever they update their master plans.

"For the sake of our economy and jobs, both locally and nationally, we need to pass the FAA reauthorization," Rep. Lipinski said. "And for the sake of our environment, health, and national security, it should include efforts to decrease harmful emissions, waste, and dependence on foreign oil."


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