The Biden Administration’s FY2024 FAA budget request - submitted under the overarching Transportation Department’s funding document, provides resources intended to meet lingering, current and future aviation safety and efficiency challenges. Unresolved is whether macro-economic developments, political realities and other forces in the US will align themselves to allow the FAA to receive its fair share of the FY24 federal budget. Halldale Group Editor Marty Kauchak provides highlights of the simulation and training aspects of this budget request.
The White House has apparently heard and is attempting to address the surging problems and challenges in the very broad US civil aviation sector – developments emerging at a fast pace. Vital stakeholders in the US commercial aviation enterprise, from associations to passenger advocacy groups to members of Congress, continue to voice concerns about air system resilience during adverse weather, the number of near-misses on US runways and, as important, the ability of the FAA and, indeed the broader US government, to meet future developments and trends.
President Biden requested a FY24 baseline budget of $19.8 billion and $5.0 billion in advance annual appropriations to invest in the modernization of US aviation infrastructure. The requested $19.8 billion compares to $19.0 billion enacted in FY23 and $18.4 billion enacted in FY22. The budget baseline is intended to support the entire commercial aviation enterprise, including topics of particular interest to CAT readers.
Representative S&T Highlights
The FY24 budget continues to build upon the Controller Hiring and Training Surge initiated in FY23. This budget marks $117 million and 457 full-time equivalents (bureaucratese for full-time employees) to quicken the pace of Air Traffic Organization hiring and training to allow the system to continue recovering from the impact of the pandemic on the ATO workforce.
This latest budget provides $16.2 million and 27 FTEs to hire engineers, inspectors and others to continue implementing the Aircraft Certification, Safety, and Accountability Act. The FAA budget document notes, “The funding will allow FAA to keep pace with the significant increased activity in industry growth and the rapid expansion of Urban Air Mobility, Optionally Piloted Aircraft as well as supporting Safety Management System (SMS) integration.”
UASs are on the FAA’s horizon in other programs of record. Of note, $21.0 million is requested to support research that builds upon current drone operations, rules policy, and procedures to achieve full UAS integration in the airspace system. What should be no surprise, the budget document adds, “The integration of drones into the national airspace is evolving to operations predominately using electric propulsion."
Mirroring commercial airline industry workforce activities reported on by Halldale Group, the FAA’s FY24 budget request includes $3.7 million and 34 FTEs to meet the demand on programs for youth of various grade levels and backgrounds for general aviation and aerospace talent development.
Can Promises Be Kept?
This FAA budget request is facing increasing headwinds as it winds its way through the byzantine US congressional authorization and appropriation budget processes.
As the Republicans are in the majority in the US House and the 2024 election season is beginning, this third Biden budget proposal will compete with what is certain to be a Republican counter-budget proposal, one that may seek to eliminate the US budget deficit. The US federal government hit its technical debt limit on 19 January 2023 and is being fiscally kept on life support with intricate accounting maneuvers to pay its bills. An impasse on the federal debt is looming for this summer. These issues, along with the increasing cost of supporting Ukraine during its war with Russia and countering China in AsiaPacific, are among near-term developments challenging the FAA’s ability to receive a fully funded FY24 budget request.