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CARD PROPOSES THREE-YEAR PLAN TO MODERNIZE AVIATION SYSTEM

 CARD PROPOSES THREE-YEAR PLAN TO MODERNIZE AVIATION SYSTEM
 WASHINGTON, March 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Secretary of Transportation Andrew H. Card Jr. today sent Congress a three-year plan to boost the capacity of the nation's air transportation system, enhance safety and continue the modernization of the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA's) air traffic control system.
 The proposed FAA reauthorization legislation, called the Aviation Safety and Capacity Expansion Act Amendments of 1992, would provide funding for the agency for fiscal years 1993 through 1995.
 Card said: "This is one of my top legislative priorities for 1992. It is an important part of President Bush's program to get the U.S. economy rolling, create jobs and to strengthen the aviation infrastructure. I will work closely with the Congress to see that this legislation is adopted promptly.
 "The legislation reauthorizing important FAA programs combines increased levels of overall spending with improvements that emphasize capacity expansion. This will give the FAA the tools it needs to continue to fulfill its mandate."
 In a letter transmitting the legislation to Congress, Card said the proposal advances many important points in the National Transportation Policy, including investment in infrastructure, improved intermodal connections, greater reliance on user fees, stronger partnerships with state, local and private entities and sensitivity to the environment.
 Over the three-year period, the administration's proposal would provide more than $15 billion for the FAA's capital investment programs -- the airport improvement program, facilities and equipment, and research, engineering and development.
 This level of funding is more than 25 percent higher than the level of funding during the three previous years and will allow the FAA to continue programs to increase airport capacity and undertake essential work on the air traffic control system for the next century.
 Under the proposal, airport entitlement funds could be used for the first time to help finance off-airport projects, such as a rail line or a highway, that directly improve access to an airport for passengers and freight. The legislation would also expand from eight to 25 the number of current or former military airports eligible for funds under the military airport program, which boosts airport capacity quickly where an unused military facility is available.
 At the heart of the legislation are an increased research effort and the continued modernization of the air traffic control and navigation system to increase safety, efficiency and capacity.
 This will include continued work on the Advanced Automation System, which will bring a high level of automation to the control of air traffic, and the Voice Switching and Control System, which will improve communications among air traffic controllers and between the controllers and pilots.
 The proposed legislation also provides for a continued high level of funding for grants-in-aid under the airport improvement program, which will receive $1.9 billion a year.
 Important proposed changes to the airport program include extending the State Block Grant program so all qualified states can participate in allocating funds to reliever and general aviation airports and increasing the proportion of grant funds dedicated to projects that reduce noise impacts and promote more compatible land use around airports.
 The proposed legislation also would:
 -- Increase the percentage of FAA expenses recovered from the user-supported Aviation Trust Fund, thereby reducing the burden on the general taxpayer.
 -- Continue the "war risk" insurance program which was heavily relied on by airlines flying in support of Operation Desert Storm/Desert Shield.
 -- Establish a special program for the FAA to hire retired military air traffic controllers to work in selected towers and flight service stations.
 If the legislation is enacted by Congress, the uncommitted balance in the trust fund would be cut by about half over the three- year authorization period.
 -0- 3/4/92
 /CONTACT: Fred Farrar of the Federal Aviation Administration, 202-267-8521/ CO: U.S. Department of Transportation; Federal Aviation
 Administration ST: District of Columbia IN: AIR SU: LEG


MH-DC -- DC012 -- 5008 03/04/92 14:06 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Mar 4, 1992
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