The nation’s air traffic control system is about to get an upgrade as the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has started investing the first $1 billion of $5 billion in total funding provided by last year’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
According to the FAA, the investment will sustain, repair, or replace hundreds of buildings and pieces of equipment that keep flying safe for U.S. passengers and cargo.
Air traffic control systems operated by the FAA cover more than 5 million square miles of airspace in the U.S. and more than 24 million square miles over oceans. The system includes hundreds of towers at airports and terminal approach control facilities, which provide air traffic services to aircraft approaching and leaving busy airspace.
For successful outcomes, the network depends on power systems, navigation and weather equipment, and radar and surveillance systems across the country. But many of those units currently suffer from delayed maintenance, FAA leaders say.
“There’s a great deal of work needed to reduce the backlog of sustainment work, upgrades, and replacement of buildings and equipment needed to operate our nation’s airspace safely,” FAA Deputy Administrator A. Bradley Mims said in a release. “We are going to make sure small and disadvantaged businesses owned by women and minorities have the chance to do this work so we can expand jobs and opportunities across the country.”
The work is one small part of the roughly $1 trillion infrastructure package that became law in 2021 as an effort to revitalize the nation’s infrastructure and support the supply chain economy. The legislation covers spending on existing federal public works programs and adds $550 billion for additional projects that address roads and bridges, broadband internet expansion, safety, and energy production, among others.
Specific spending in the FAA portion of the infrastructure bill this year will include $1 billion split among nine broad topics:
“Air traffic control facilities are the nerve centers of our airspace system, & a big part of the reason why flying is the safest mode of transportation,” - @SecretaryPete. Learn how we’ll invest the first $1B into the country’s air traffic infrastructure. https://t.co/CJvdRJRFeG pic.twitter.com/MQZqI3A7D6— The FAA ✈️ (@FAANews) April 27, 2022