This week we introduced H.R. 915, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2009, to ensure the Federal Aviation Administration is well positioned to complete its missions over the next four years. This is a critical time for aviation. While the economic downturn has been tough on everyone, projections for air travel are still strong for the years ahead, with a billion passengers a year predicted within a decade. Moreover, the Obama administration gives us a great opportunity to move past the obstacles of the last Congress and enact this legislation.

Our bill again provides a historic level of funding for the FAA, including $16.2 billion for the Airport Improvement Program, $38.9 billion for operations, $13.4 billion for facilities and equipment, $1.35 billion for Research, Engineering and Development and $200 million for the Essential Air Service program. Importantly, it retains its focus on safety, addressing maintenance inspector levels and air traffic controller retirements, while adding provisions to improve safety regulation of the airlines. The legislation provides the funding necessary to advance the Next Generation Air Transportation System, which will over time allow us to move from radars to satellites, improving the efficiency of our air space. In addition, the bill retains strong passengers’ rights provisions to make the airlines and airports more accountable for delays and how they handle them.

Similar legislation passed the House last Congress, but it stalled in the Senate. We will again move quickly to pass H.R. 915 in the House and will encourage the Senate to do the same. The time has come to enact this bill into law.