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This is more important to an airport or business than stimulus and more important for our economy in the next few years than anything that will come from the Debt Relief effort.  Perhaps most importantly, unlike the Debt Relief bill, the funding of Next Gen would come directly from industry, not the taxpayer.  

Moreover, Congress and the key stakeholders agreed on the formula many months ago.  Passing the FAA bill would be a solid “double” for our economy and Congress should set aside the partisan fringe issues holding it up and pass it now.    

Despite the fact that major aviation projects and all long term planning have been in limbo for several years, the FAA and small companies are doing their best to innovate and modernize our airports as best they can.  

In many cases this has been dependent upon businesses developing new technologies to address pressing needs on their own dime in the hopes they will be adopted.  Doing it this way can be incredibly risky, particularly for smaller, family-owned businesses in this economic climate.

In this vein, our company was proud to announce the launch of a new partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that will revolutionize energy usage and efficiency at our nation’s airports.  

Beginning next year, we will begin to replace legacy navigational lighting systems (PAPIs) powered by antiquated incandescent lamps with up to 400 systems that are by powered by Light Emitting Diode (LED) lamps.  Once implemented, this program could cut energy costs for PAPI systems at U.S. airports by 75 percent.   

Under normal daytime use, the existing FAA incandescent PAPI requires approximately 3500 watts of power, while the Next Gen PAPI draws about 850 watts, or 75 percent less energy.  The Next Gen PAPIs are much more reliable than the current PAPI systems and require less maintenance. The LED lamps last over 50,000 hours while the incandescent lamps last approximately 1000 hours. 

In addition to being a solid “single” for our nation’s aviation economy, the green lighting initiative is also a “triple play” for our nation’s ailing economy. The program will dramatically drive down airport energy, maintenance, and environmental mitigation costs and represents significant savings to airports and taxpayers over time.  

As we learned in the aftermath of 9/11, our nation’s aviation sector, and the 1.2 trillion in activity and 11 million good paying American jobs it represents, is a vital financial engine for our nation.  While they may not appear very large to some, in the aggregate these smart partnerships can turn out to be substantial.  In these uncertain budgetary times, the Department of Transportation and the FAA should continue to look to small innovative companies to allow this engine to run cleaner and faster, and spark the rally we all so desperately need.     

Steven Ozuna is the owner and president of New Bedford Panoramex Corp., a leader in engineering, manufacturing and design, specializing in avionic navigational aids, airfield lighting and control.