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Since Congress enacted the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21 Century (AIR-21) 3 years ago, much has changed. At that time, the focus was on reducing congestion and flight delays. Today, flights are being canceled for lack of business, two major air carriers are in bankruptcy, and attention has shifted from increasing the capacity of the national airspace system to enhancing aviation security. Furthermore, as the federal budget deficit has increased, competition for federal resources has intensified, and the costs of airport capital development are growing, especially with the new requirements for security. Nonetheless, analysts expect the demand for air traffic services to rebound. Until that time, the unexpected slump in air traffic creates a window of opportunity to improve the safety and efficiency of the national airport system.

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