LaHood: Obama is committed to 'NextGen' airplane technology

"First we need an FAA bill. Once that is done, we'll sit down with the airlines and try to figure out how to get technology in the cockpit," he said.

Plans called for the NextGen system to be installed by 2014 at the busiest airports, and nationwide by 2020. The new system would cost the FAA about $22 billion through 2025, while airlines would spend about $20 billion to upgrade their airplanes' computer systems.

Congress recently introduced a 19th stopgap measure to fund the FAA, which would provide money to the agency through June.

Longer-term bills have passed both the House and Senate, but inter-chamber negotiations have been consumed by a labor provision that overwhelmed debate on the underlying bill — and drew a veto threat from President Obama.