US Approves Air-Traffic Control Upgrade Bill

25 March 2010 (Last Updated March 25th, 2010 18:30)

The US Senate has approved a $34.5bn bill to upgrade the nation's ageing air-traffic control system and limit tarmac delays for passengers. The bill, which will fund the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) modernisation programme through to September 2011, has been passed by a vote

The US Senate has approved a $34.5bn bill to upgrade the nation's ageing air-traffic control system and limit tarmac delays for passengers.

The bill, which will fund the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) modernisation programme through to September 2011, has been passed by a vote of 93-0.

The FAA bill has recommended changing the existing air-traffic control system to a satellite-based system by 2014 at the country's busiest airports and nationwide by 2020, according to Reuters.

The FAA is expected to spend nearly $22bn introducing the new system, known as NextGen, by 2025.

The new air-traffic system is expected to increase safety, save airlines money, reduce delays and cut down on pollution.

Airlines will have to spend nearly $20bn on upgrading aircraft computer systems.

The bill has increased fuel taxes on private aircraft, including business jets, from 22¢ to 36¢ per gallon to fund the modernisation of ageing radar-based air traffic network.

Planes weighing 6,000lb, which were previously exempt from the taxes, will now have to pay into the Airport and Airway Trust Fund, raising around $56m over ten years.