This testimony discusses the status of the Airport and Airway Trust Fund (Trust Fund). Established in 1970, the Trust Fund helps finance the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) investments in the airport and airway system, such as construction and safety improvements at airports and technological upgrades to the air traffic control system, as well as FAA operations, such as providing air traffic control and conducting safety inspections. FAA, the Trust Fund, and the excise taxes that support the Trust Fund (which are discussed later in this statement) must all be periodically reauthorized. The most recent reauthorization expired at the end of fiscal year 2007. Proposed reauthorization legislation was considered but not enacted in the 110th and 111th Congresses, although several short-term measures were passed to extend the authorization of aviation programs, funding, and Trust Fund revenue collections. The latest of these extensions--the Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2010, Part IV--was enacted on December 22, 2010, extending FAA programs, expenditure authority, and aviation trust fund revenue collections through March 31, 2011. The financial health of the Trust Fund is important to ensure sustainable funding for a safe and efficient aviation system without increasing demands on general revenues. This testimony provides an update on the status of the Airport and Airway Trust Fund, including the current financial condition of the Trust Fund, anticipated Trust Fund expenditures for planning and implementing improvements in the nation's air traffic management system that are expected to enhance the safety and capacity of the air transport system, and options for ensuring a sustainable Trust Fund. This statement draws on our body of work on these issues, supplemented with updated information on the Trust Fund from FAA and the Congressional Budget Office. All dollars reported in this statement are nominal, unless otherwise noted.
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