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Press Release of Senator Cantwell
Cantwell on FAA Aviation Jobs Bill: ‘a Win for Aviation Innovation in Washington’
Senator led on reauthorization bill, which supports thousands of Washington jobs and invests in the state’s airports
Monday, February 06,2012
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) praised the passage of the bipartisan Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill for Washington state. The bill reauthorizes the FAA through 2015, accelerates the air traffic control system’s conversion to a GPS-based network, known as NextGen, and provides stable funding for Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants to invest in airport infrastructure.
“This bipartisan bill is a winner for aviation innovation and job growth in Washington State,” said Cantwell, the Chair of the Senate Aviation Subcommittee. “It will support 12,000 Washington jobs as Washington’s airports modernize to support regional growth. This long overdue bill will help bring our aviation transportation system into 21st century GPS technology. That means friendlier skies, fewer delays for travelers, greater efficiency for airlines, and new aviation jobs.”
The legislation has already passed the House and now heads to President Obama for his signature. Its provisions will have numerous benefits for Washington state, including:
21ST CENTURY AVIATION:
The FAA modernization comes at a crucial time. America’s passengers and cargo airlines drive nearly 11 million jobs and $1.2 trillion in annual economic activity, yet America is the only Western nation that still relies on a 60-year-old, ground-based air traffic control system instead of the more efficient, satellite-based system used by other developed nations. Projections indicate a significant increase in demand for air travel over the next 15 years, and the nation’s current air traffic system is quickly reaching its capacity.
As chair of the Senate Aviation Subcommittee, Cantwell has made the FAA reauthorization a priority. During last week’s Federal Aviation hearing, Committee Chairman Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) recognized her leadership in support of the effort:
“[Senator Cantwell has] worked tirelessly to get this bill done,” Rockefeller said. “She’s made substantial contributions to the entire bill both in the area of slots but most notably on NextGen. And just for our Committee’s interest, from my point of view, I told her at the caucus that she was going to be the point-person on NextGen. She’s brilliant on technology and all those things and she’s very organized. So this bill marks the first of many major contributions she’s going to make.”
Cantwell has long fought to advance and modernize the nation’s aviation economy and skilled workforce. Soon after taking office, she passed legislation as part of a previous FAA reauthorization bill creating AMTAS at the University of Washington. The center leads the industry’s research of advanced aviation materials, such as composites and aluminum alloys, for use in future aircraft. In 2001, Cantwell also helped land initial funding to help grow a training program in advanced aviation materials started in the late 90s at Edmonds Community College. Since then, several other training programs at the state level have spun off from these initial programs and are currently helping to produce skilled aviation workers for the state and nation using state and federal funds.