Modernization Costs Uncertain

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Witnesses at the hearing said it's not certain how much it will cost to modernize the system. According to a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, "No comprehensive estimate of NGATS costs has been developed." The result, said Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), is that the discussion "is putting the cart ahead of the horse when we don't know what we need." Donald Marron, acting CBO director, testified that based on conservative assumptions, the aviation trust fund will have a surplus of "$2 billion at the end of 2006, increasing to $19 billion by the end of 2016." Costello said he disagrees with FAA Administrator Marion Blakey's frequent assertion that there is a gap between revenue going into the trust fund and the FAA's costs.