October 25, 2017 - Issue: Vol. 163, No. 172 — Daily Edition115th Congress (2017 - 2018) - 1st Session
REFORM AND REAUTHORIZE FAA; Congressional Record Vol. 163, No. 172
(House of Representatives - October 25, 2017)
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[Page H8148] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] REFORM AND REAUTHORIZE FAA The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from California (Mr. Denham) for 5 minutes. Mr. DENHAM. Mr. Speaker, I rise this morning because the House must continue its work to reform and reauthorize the FAA. We have got to pass H.R. 2997, the 21st Century AIRR Act. Thirty years ago--30 years ago--the FAA identified the need to modernize or upgrade the Nation's antiquated World War II era air traffic control system. This is a system, at the time, that used radar technology and paper strips for communications between controllers. They literally would take these paper slips and hand them from one controller to the next controller to the next controller as aircraft not only moved through the airwaves, but were moving through the airport systems. Now, over the last 30 years, Canada, Australia, and many in the EU have changed to this GPS system. We have got countries all across the globe going to GPS, or decades ago have already switched. It is when they go through our airspace, we still use this old radar technology. Now, during this time, we have upgraded GPS systems. We all carry around handheld devices that use GPS: the Wave app, Google app. There are many different mapping platforms that allow you to get through cities, towns, the countryside. If there is an accident, there is a delay, it allows you to get around it and move through so that we can actually have greater efficiencies on the road. But 30 years have gone by, and today, after spending $7 billion, the FAA still uses this outdated radar technology, moving from beacon to beacon, getting passed along as you travel across the United States. And, yes, our air traffic control system still passes these little pieces of paper from one to the next to the next. Oftentimes, if you travel around, you will go through areas where you are not captured by the radar at all, while other countries continue with this GPS system. This outdated air traffic control system negatively impacts the entire flying public. An outdated ATC means route inefficiencies, which means higher costs, which yields more congestion in our skies and sitting on our tarmacs. I would like to see a system where you don't leave the gate to go sit on the runway until you know that you actually have a slot and are moving into the air and have a direct flight to your point. But today, you will see many airlines that will sit you out on the tarmac waiting for a slot. More congestion is a direct factor of flight delays and canceled flights. The reforms in this bill will provide more on-time departures and arrivals and less canceled flights. This bill is for the average flier. It doesn't matter which airline you take, we ought to have an air traffic control system that serves them all with a GPS system that allows you to get from point A to point B without the time delays. This also has the Air Improvement Program fully funded, which actually increases the Airport Improvement Program from $3.3 billion to $4 billion. It has the ability to upgrade our airports. Mr. Speaker, I also served my country in the Air Force for 16 years. As a veteran, I know that national security comes first. The 21st Century AIRR Act does not jeopardize the interaction between the Department of Defense and air traffic control; in fact, it strengthens it. The Federal Government retains exclusive sovereignty and control of the airspace, and the President maintains critical authority to assume control of the airspace during emergencies in times of war. The time to bring up the bill, H.R. 3997, the 21st Century AIRR Act, is now. The public has waited way too long. We have been bypassed by other countries. If we can identify it 30 years ago that we had World War II technology, we ought to recognize it today and stop passing these little pieces of paper back and forth through our air traffic control systems. Let's upgrade our systems, let's create efficiencies, and let's get people moving across this country in an efficient manner where they are not sitting on tarmacs waiting for flight delays. ____________________