Much has changed since the Congress enacted the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR-21) 3 years ago--the downturn in the nation's economy and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, have taken a heavy toll on aviation. Competition for federal funding has also grown. The reauthorization of AIR-21 provides an opportunity for the Congress and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to focus on several challenges to improving the national airspace system. These challenges include (1) funding planned airport capital development, (2) increasing capacity and efficiency, (3) implementing human capital and procurement reforms, and (4) ensuring aviation safety. This testimony is based on ongoing and published GAO work. The information on funding and development, obtained from FAA and the Airport Council International (ACI), a key organization representing the airport industry, is preliminary and therefore subject to change.
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