FAA to share modernization costs

The Federal Aviation Administration has offered to pay up to $15 million

of the cost of new equipment at 10 airports in a pilot program to speed

modernization of air traffic control facilities and equipment.

The agency this week encouraged public airports and joint ventures between

airports and commercial air carriers to submit proposals for modernizing

navigation and landing systems and other equipment. If a proposal is chosen,

the FAA may provide a grant of up to 33 percent of the cost, not to exceed

$15 million.

The pilot program for cost-sharing of air traffic upgrades was authorized

in the Wendell H. Ford Aviation and Investment Reform Act for the 21st Century

(AIR-21). The pilot is expected to run through 2003, with the first proposals

due Jan. 19.

The FAA will consider projects that improve the safety, efficiency or

mobility of the National Airspace System, according to a Dec. 6 Federal

Register notice that finalized guidance for the pilot program.

Possible projects include:

* Airport-specific air traffic facilities and equipment, including satellite-based

local-area augmentation systems, instrument landing systems, weather-detection

equipment, lighting improvements and air traffic control towers.

* Automation tools to improve airport capacity.

* Facilities and equipment that enhance airspace control procedures,

such as consolidation of terminal radar control facilities and equipment,

or equipment that enhances surveillance of en route aircraft, such as Global

Positioning System-based technology.

A special FAA technical panel will choose the projects by July 13, 2001.

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