Full Committee Markup -- H.R. 2698
Opening Statement By Chairman Bart Gordon
Good morning. Today the Committee is meeting to mark up two good pieces of legislation that have bipartisan support.
The first bill that we will consider today is H.R. 2698, the Federal Aviation Research and Development Reauthorization Act of 2007.
H. R. 2698 was introduced by Chairman Udall, and I was pleased to be an original cosponsor of the legislation.
The Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee met last Thursday to consider H.R. 2698 and favorably reported the bill by voice vote without amendment.
I want to thank and congratulate Members of the Subcommittee for their hard work and bipartisan cooperation on this bill.
There are two central features to the legislation before us today.
The first is a set of provisions intended to strengthen both the authority and the accountability of the Next Generation Air Transportation System’s Joint Planning and Development Office—JPDO—because its success or failure is going to determine in large measure whether or not the nation will have a safe and efficient air traffic management system in the future.
The second feature is a four-year authorization of FAA’s research and development activities, including the establishment of important new research initiatives on the impact of space weather on aviation, the impact of aviation on the climate, research on runway materials and engineered materials restraining systems, among others.
I believe each of those new initiatives will better position the FAA to respond to emerging research challenges.
As I have noted, the focus of today’s markup is FAA’s R&D program and the Next Generation Air Transportation System initiative.
However, it is clear that FAA cannot ensure the successful development of the nation’s future air transportation system on its own.
As the establishment of the interagency JPDO by Congress four years ago indicates, it is going to take the combined efforts of multiple federal agencies, working in partnership with industry and the academic community, to make the NextGen initiative a success.
NASA, in particular, has an important R&D role to play, and we will need to ensure that NASA is given the necessary resources to play that role, and—in turn—that NASA steps up to its responsibilities for conducting needed R&D.
That is something that the Committee will devote more attention to as we start work on reauthorizing NASA later in this Congress.
For now, however, our focus is on the FAA, and I think that H.R. 2698 is a good bill that will help ensure that America’s aviation system remains safe and preeminent in the world.
I urge my colleagues to support it.
Today, we will also take up H.Res. 487, Recognizing the contribution of modeling and simulation technology to the security and prosperity of the United States, and recognizing modeling and simulation as a National Critical Technology.
Opening Statement By Subcommittee Chairman Mark Udall
As Chairman Gordon has indicated, H.R. 2698, the Federal Aviation Research and Development Reauthorization Act of 2007, was passed by the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics on a voice vote at its markup last week.
I want to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, especially my friend and Ranking Member, Mr. Feeney, for the bipartisan approach they have taken towards this legislation during its development.
I hope that we will continue that approach today.
H.R. 2698 will help ensure that the FAA has the tools it needs to keep the nation’s air transportation system safe, efficient, and environmentally friendly.
It reauthorizes important R&D activities at the FAA, starts up new initiatives in key areas, and contains provisions to strengthen the interagency Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO), which has responsibility for planning and developing the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen).
The NextGen initiative will replace the nation’s current air traffic management system, which is being pushed to its limits and will be unable to satisfy the projected demand for future air travel.
The JPDO must integrate the work of numerous agencies on complex projects. The bill will help strengthen the JPDO and increase its effectiveness.
The bill also recognizes that the FAA, in coordination with other agencies, plays a critical role in supporting other important aviation R&D activities that the GAO and FAA’s own R&D advisory committee say have been underfunded in recent years.
One such issue is aviation emissions, which has been receiving a lot of attention lately. For example, the European Union may impose penalties on aircraft emissions in the next decade.
We should address this issue proactively. This bill takes the first step of directing the FAA, in coordination with other agencies, to develop a research plan, and by having the National Research Council carry out an independent assessment of that plan.
Our colleges and universities play an important role in research to support the nation’s future air transportation system – research that also helps to train the next generation of scientists, engineers, and aviation specialists.
That’s why the bill authorizes a university research grants program and strengthens FAA's Centers of Excellence program, and I again want to thank Mr. Feeney for work on that latter issue.
The bill also contains R&D provisions to continue engine research to help enable existing general aviation piston engine aircraft to operate with unleaded aviation fuel. I would like to thank Mr. Lipinski for his efforts on this provision.
Space weather is becoming even more critical to aviation as more planes fly over the polar regions. The bill establishes a multi-agency research program to study the impacts of it on the aviation system and on air passengers and crews.
Mr. Chairman, as I have said before, the nation's air transportation system is critical to our economic well-being, our international competitiveness, and our quality of life.
I believe that this bill will keep the FAA’s R&D enterprise healthy and productive.
We have received letters of endorsement from several organizations, including the Aerospace Industries Association, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the Airports Council International, the American Meteorological Society, and the Colorado Department of Transportation.
In conclusion, I think that this is a good bipartisan bill, and I urge my colleagues to support it.