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Biden’s proposed budget includes increase for FAA, aviation programs

June 3, 2021

President Joe Biden sent his first budget request to Congress on May 28, totaling more than $6 trillion and marking what is considered the largest sustained spending plan since World War II. The budget request includes a 2.7-percent increase for the FAA and aviation programs. It does not include any proposal to privatize our nation’s air traffic control system or impose user fees on general aviation.

The proposal includes $88 billion for the Department of Transportation to, among other things, continue the deployment of NextGen air traffic technologies, and integrate such new entrants as unmanned aircraft systems and commercial space operations. The budget request supports the development of sustainable aviation fuels and accelerating technologies to reduce emissions and fuel burn from new commercial aircraft and engines.

The president’s budget for the FAA includes:

  • FAA Operations: $11.4 billion (increase of $432 million from FY21) to oversee the safety of civil aviation, and to provide for the operation, maintenance, communications, and logistical support of the air traffic control and air navigation systems. This funding level enables the FAA to preserve the highest level of safety in the national airspace system (NAS) while investing in innovation, and address future workforce shortages.
  • Facilities and Equipment: $3.41 billion (increase of $395 million) to maintain the capacity and safety of the current airspace system, while continuing the modernization and transformation of both the NAS and facilities infrastructure.
  • Research, Engineering, and Development: $258.5 million (increase of $60.5 million) to enable continued research and innovation to sustain and improve mission performance across all elements of the aviation system. Many of these investments would be targeted toward climate change. The budget also includes $5 million to support the Piston Aviation Fuels Initiative (PAFI), charged with finding a fleetwide replacement for leaded avgas. AOPA continues to serve a leadership role on the PAFI Steering Group.
  • Airport Grants-in-Aid: $3.35 billion is requested to preserve and improve critical airfield infrastructure at more than 3,300 public-use airports nationwide. The request also includes $41 million for airport technology research to support the safe and efficient integration of new and innovative technologies into the airport environment (including the continued testing off unmanned aircraft systems at airports, and the development of infrastructure standards for electric vertical takeoff vehicles).

The request also includes $5 million for two Aviation Workforce Development grant programs created by the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018.

The president’s budget proposal is a blueprint for the administration’s priorities. Ultimately, Congress will determine where and how much to provide to specific departments and agencies across the federal government.

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