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Federal Aviation Administration has started investing the first $1 billion of $5 billion in funding provided by the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or IIJA – enacted in November 2021 – into the country’s air traffic control or ATC system. That funding will support, repair, or replace hundreds of buildings and pieces of equipment, the agency said.

[Above photo by the FAA]

The FAA controls more than 5 million square miles of airspace in the U.S. and more than 24 million square miles over oceans. The ATC system includes hundreds of towers at airports and terminal-approach facilities, which provide air traffic services to aircraft approaching and leaving busy airspace. It also includes centers handling aircraft at high-altitudes.

Bradley Mims. Photo by the FAA.

Those facilities depend on power systems, navigation and weather equipment, and radar and surveillance systems – equipment that that this funding from the FAA seeks to sustain.

“There’s a great deal of work needed to reduce the backlog of sustainment work, upgrades, and replacement of buildings and equipment needed to operate our nation’s airspace safely,” noted FAA Deputy Administrator Bradley Mims in a statement.

“We are going to make sure small and disadvantaged businesses owned by women and minorities have the chance to do this work so we can expand jobs and opportunities across the country,” he added.

The FAA outlines the specific facilities and equipment it expects to support with this first round of funding:

  • Reinforce Navigation, Weather & Tracking Equipment: The FAA plans to complete a “backlog” of work on “supporting infrastructure” to keep it reliable, which includes communications, surveillance, weather, and navigation systems to guide aircraft.
  • Power Systems: Replace underground cables, transformers, switches at airports, engine generators and fuel storage tanks that are part of primary and back-up power systems for our air traffic systems.
  • Enroute Flight Centers: Update and repair the country’s Air Route Traffic Control Centers that handle aircraft flying at high altitudes.
  • Long-Range Radars: Renovate or replace the supporting infrastructure at long-range radar sites, which are critical to tracking flights between airports.
  • Replace Towers: Pay for design, site evaluation, and preparation for replacement ATC towers – many located at regional and smaller airports.
  • Improve Towers and Approach & Departure Facilities: More than 50 percent of FAA towers and TRACON facilities, which handle flights entering and exiting busy airspace, are over 40 years old. Funding will pay for new elevators, plumbing systems, and supporting infrastructure.
  • Environmental and Safety: Remove and restore areas where we have outdated facilities or personnel safety infrastructure that is no longer used and incorporate environmental and personnel safety updates.
  • Personnel & Travel: Recruit and hire installation technicians and engineers needed to improve and modernize these facilities.
  • Facility Security: Upgrade various integrated security systems at all FAA staffed facilities. Upgrades include those for guardhouses, visitor parking, fencing, perimeter hardening, window blast protection and lighting.
editor@aashto.org

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