that would provide funding of more than $40 billion through 2011. Key provisions include acceleration of a satellite-based navigation system for "100 percent coverage at the top 35 airports by 2014, with the entire National Airspace System" by 2018; creation of an air traffic control modernization oversight board; and establishment of a chief NextGen officer. However, the bill introduced by Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Jim DeMint (R-SC) doesn't detail how to fund NextGen, estimated by some at $50 billion. Senators told reporters that would be left to work out by 2011. The bill also "streamlines the Passenger Facility Charge process" but doesn't change the maximum allowable PFCs (as was included in the House version passed in May
). The Senate bill also includes a passenger bill of rights provision of a "hard, three-hour time limit to allow passengers to deplane in the case of extended delay." After multiple extensions, the existing funding authorization is set to expire Sept. 30. That means Congress has just 77 days to get the Senate bill through committees and votes, reconcile it with the House version and obtain White House approval to ensure FAA funding and taxing authority.