The House today is expected to vote on a bill that would reauthorize federal aviation programs and allow airports to ramp up revenue they use to back bonds.

The legislation was introduced by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman James L. Oberstar, D-Minn.

If approved, House and Senate conferees would try to reconcile its differences with a Senate companion bill.

The Senate bill would create a pilot program for six airports to collect potentially limitless passenger facilities charges as long as they are not included in the cost of airfare. PFCs are used by many airports to back bonds.

The House version would not create a pilot program, but would allow airports to collect up to $7.00 for PFCs, which currently are capped at $4.50.

The increase would generate about $1.3 billion of additional revenue for airport development per year, according to figures from the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

There are currently 380 airports approved by the Federal Aviation Administration to collect PFCs, including 98 of the top 100.

They are authorized to collect about $74.2 billion, and between 1992 and 2009 collected $30 billion, according to FAA documents.

What began as a relatively low annual take-in of $85 million in 1992 grew to about $2.8 billion in 2007, but has softened slightly since then.

The House approved legislation last year that would have raised the PFC cap, which airport groups say is a necessity in a time of economic stress that range from decreased air travel rates to higher costs for construction. However, a similar measure last year failed to be approved by the Senate.

The most recent FAA authorization expired Sept. 30, 2007. It was followed by a series of short-term extensions, the latest of which is set to expire at the end of this month.

To keep the FAA running at least until July, the House yesterday approved a funding extension for the agency, including taxes and funds associated with aviation.

The House bill to be considered today would provide $53.5 billion for FAA capital programs for fiscal 2010 through 2012. That would include $12.3 billion for the airport improvement program. AIP funds help airports pay for capital projects such as capacity improvements, but are not used to repay bonds.

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