Millions of people step onto planes all around the world without a single thought of the regulatory agencies that control the industry. In the US we are lucky to have the safest airspace in the world, but no one thinks of that while they ignore the pre-flight instructions from the flight attendants.
The vast majority of people will never talk to the air traffic controllers at airports and en route control centers throughout the country, but they are there everyday to keep fliers safe. People are probably even less likely to ever meet the countless inspectors who ensure that aircraft, pilots, mechanics, and dozens of other professions do their job properly.
According to Michael Huerta, acting administrator of the FAA, civil aviation contributes $1.3 trillion to our economy and generates more than 10 million jobs. The FAA oversees all of that, but for almost five years they have been working on temporary time.
Since 2007, when the last authorization bill was passed, there have been 22 extensions, and we stand poised on the edge of number 23. Congress has until January 31 to get a new bill passed, but based on their inability to do pretty much anything I do not have my hopes very high.
Apparently the whole bill is hung up on one portion which specifies voting procedures for unions. While it is an important point of discussion, it is something that should simply be taken out of the bill for now so that everything else can move forward.
The lack of an authorization bill is not only keeping everyone in the FAA on their heels, but pretty much everyone involved in aviation. Airports are not starting some projects they other wise would because they are waiting on funding from the FAA. Funding that the FAA cannot hand out until they are authorized to do so.
Arguably more important than that, is the inability of the FAA to really push forward with the NextGen air traffic control system. Again, most people don’t think much of it, but the reality is that the new system will create jobs, save on fuel costs, and make air travel for efficient for everyone involved.
This Congress seems to be content with doing nothing simply to spite the members of the other parties, but that is completely unacceptable. They were elected to do a job, and so far they have completely failed to do it.