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Aviation groups tell Congress NextGen funding will spur jobs

President Barack Obama and Congress are looking for ways to accelerate job growth and civil and travel associations have a suggestion: Fund the Next Generation Air Traffic Systems, commonly called NextGen.

The funding would finance switching the U.S. air traffic control system from ground-based radar to a satellite-based infrastructure. The change would create thousands of jobs for engineers, software developers and other high-tech workers, the groups say. Pilots, maintenance facilities and travel and tourism companies also would benefit from the change, they say.

The organizations sent a letter to House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) and Ranking Member John Mica (R-Fla.). It was signed by 19 associations, according to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

Besides job creation and boosting general aviation, the change would improve aviation safety, reduce delays and cut carbon emissions. It also would help keep the U.S. as a world leader in aviation, they say.

The European Union, Australia and Canada are surpassing the U.S. in implementing NextGen.

“Other countries like China and India will look to either the U.S. or Europe for leadership as they develop their air traffic control systems,” the letter said. “If the U.S does not demonstrate leadership in deploying these technologies, opportunities for U.S. manufacturers and workers will be lost.”