US House passes four-year, $63 billion FAA budget

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The US House of Representatives has passed a four-year, $63 billion Federal Aviation Administration funding bill, keeping intact a joint House and Senate compromise bill on the topic.

The FAA Modernisation and Reform Act of 2012 follows more than five years of short term reauthorisations for the agency, with controversial issues like user fees and, more recently, airline union elections causing stalemates.

Included in the legislation are key next generation air transportation system (NextGen) acceleration measures the FAA is to implement, including the creation of a Chief NextGen Officer to head up all NextGen activities at the agency.

The bill will also require the FAA to initiate a rulemaking within one year that mandates aircraft flying in "capacity constrained airspace" or at "capacity constrained airports" to equip with automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) "in" surveillance systems by 2020. The FAA previously mandated that ADS-B "out" equipment be installed in all aircraft for NextGen surveillance functions by 2020.

Industry observers say the US Senate will consider the bill next week, before sending the measure to President Obama, who is expected to sign it.