NATCA News Alert: Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework Includes $5 Billion for ATC Facility Improvements
Brothers and Sisters:
We are pleased to share that President Biden and a group of bipartisan senators have reached a deal to provide new funding for a range of infrastructure activities known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Relevant to NATCA, the legislation proposes $5 billion in funding over five years to repair or replace aging air traffic control facilities—including towers, TRACONs, Air Route Traffic Control Centers (ARTCC or centers), Combined Control Facilities (CCFs), and FAA owned Federal Contract Towers (FCTs)—many of which have exceeded their useful lifespans or require upgrades to physical infrastructure systems like roofs, windows, elevators, HVAC, and plumbing. The U.S. Senate is expected to begin consideration of this legislation in the coming days.
While this is a major positive step in the right direction, the road ahead is long and not without potential challenges. There will be several votes, many amendments offered, and then consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives, where it already faces hurdles. Ultimately, it is unclear whether a final, bipartisan agreement will be enacted into law.
Although the funding is significant, it is not yet allocated to specific facilities, and it will not be enough to repair all of the obvious and unknown deficiencies with air traffic control facilities. That said, this proposed funding added to the normal facilities and equipment appropriation is a big step toward improving the FAA’s physical infrastructure. The FAA’s centers are on average almost 60 years old, and many of the towers and TRACONs are in desperate need of repair or replacement. NATCA has been aggressively advocating for the urgent need for robust air traffic control facility upgrades to ensure the continued safety of the National Airspace System and its workforce while Congress has worked to craft infrastructure legislation. NATCA is closely reviewing the legislation to ensure that it meets its intended objective to provide funds for ATC facility repair and replacement. Stay tuned for updates as the bill moves through the legislative process.
National Executive Board