Senate panel reports out FAA reauthorization bill

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee today reported out to the Senate floor a bill that would reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration for two years and asks the agency to submit plans for a multibillion-dollar navigation system under development.

The Senate bill, S. 82, would reauthorize FAA operations at $11.4 billion through fiscal 2000. Meanwhile, the House earlier this month passed H.R. 99, which would authorize FAA operations at $5.6 billion for one year.

The Senate bill asks the FAA within six months to develop, identify and submit to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation committee a timetable for developing the $3 billion Wide-Area Augmentation System. The WAAS network would refine Global Positioning System signals for airlines to use to navigate nationwide and for precision approaches to airports. The bill also asks the FAA to determine whether WAAS will be the sole or primary means of navigation.

The House and Senate could not agree late last year on several provisions in the authorization bill, which caused Congress to extend the agency's authority for only six months until March 31.

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