Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Takes A Look At FY08 Budget
The Science & Technology
Committee's Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics examined the
fiscal year 2008 budget request for the research and development
(R&D) programs of the FAA and whether it is sufficient to meet
the agency's priorities and the country's aviation needs in its
first hearing of the 110th Congress.
The Bush administration proposed a FY08 research and development
budget of $259 million for the FAA.
Congress is scheduled to reauthorize the FAA this year. Aviation
and aerospace activities make up as much as nine percent of
America's Gross Domestic Product and also represent the
fastest-growing source of technological exports.
Among members' budget concerns was how the reduction in research
and development funds at the NASA might affect the FAA's R&D
"It needs to be noted that FAA's research is intended to
complement the aeronautics research carried out by NASA, not
substitute for it," said Subcommittee Chairman Mark Udall
Both NASA and FAA conduct civil aviation research. The two
agencies have traditionally shared the research duties, with NASA
undertaking research that it may carry through the development and
demonstration phases in key areas before transitioning it to the
FAA. The FAA then focuses on systems integration and implementation
of the technologies into the national airspace system.
Because of that relationship, FAA could have fewer R&D
options if NASA's aeronautics program suffers from insufficient
resources or fails to carry research to the point where it can be
picked up by the FAA.
Added Chairman Udall, "I'm concerned
that the changes NASA is making to its aeronautics program are
ill-advised both in terms of the reduced funding commitment and in
retreating from R&D that has direct relevance to the public
good and to our economic well-being."
"Commercial aviation is here to stay," added Subcommittee
Ranking Member Ken Calvert (R-CA), "and its role connecting the
world's markets is growing dramatically, both in the number of
people carried and the amounts of value of cargo delivered."
"There is no substitute for the services aviation provides, so
it is incumbent on government and industry to research and develop
safer, more efficient and environmentally benign aircraft to ensure
uninterrupted growth in our economy," he added.
Members also looked into R&D needs of the NextGeneration Air
Transportation System (NextGen) initiative being undertaken by the
interagency Joint Planning and Development Office. The NextGen
initiative will be the topic of an upcoming subcommittee
"We must transform the current [air transportation] system
to...the Next Generation Air Transportation System or NextGen,"
said Victoria Cox, vice president of operations, planning services
and air traffic organization for FAA.
"NextGen includes performance targets for the year 2025 that, if
achieved, will reduce [air traffic] congestion by providing far
greater capacity than our current system with higher efficiency
levels, while maintaining safety."