Most of us know someone who’s been stuck in a plane on a runway for hours, waiting for some gadget to get fixed to allow take-off. The U.S. Senate is considering legislation today that would overhaul the airline industry, which includes rules like a three-hour limit for keeping a full plane sitting on a runway.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican, says it’s a much-needed reform package. "These are very important ‘consumer bill of rights’ issues that are coming up as subsidiary but legitimate add-ons to a bill that I’ve been working on for over a year now," Grassley says. He says that particular piece of legislation would raise money to establish a safety program for aviation so every pilot has access to the global positioning satellite navigation system, Grassley says, "to know where every other airplane is in the sky."
Another Senator, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, is calling the nation’s air traffic control system "a national embarrassment’ and Grassley agrees upgrades are desperately needed. Grassley says, "This has the add-on advantages over the present method that dates back to the 1950s of safety and also more efficiency in flying." Critics say without significant upgrades in our air traffic control system, not a single one of the one-billion people who are expected to fly in 2015 will reach their destinations on time.
Grassley says the simple upgrade to have all pilots using G-P-S will be a big leap forward. Grassley says: "Planes will be able to land and take off closer together, be in the air closer together, a more efficient use of time and safety. The United States is behind the rest of the world in establishing this system."
A version of the bill has already passed the U.S. House but it’s running into trouble in the Senate. The House version would cost 800-million dollars, money that would come through raising taxes on jet fuel, which would further raise airfares on consumers.