House introduces FAA reauthorization bill

The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure has introduced the Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act, a bipartisan bill that would reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration’s funding over the next five years, expanding the Airport Improvement Program and including a number of improvements aimed at improving workforce and services of the aviation sector.

The bill is the result of several hearings and discussions over the last several months, all aimed at crafting bipartisan legislation for FAA reauthorization before it expires Sept. 30.

The 773-page bill, introduced Friday, increases the authorization for the Airport Improvement Program to $4 billion annually until 2028 and includes several AIP formula changes and expands eligibility to include more terminal projects. The AIP is an important grant program for airports.

The bill also provides over the five years, $3.4 billion annually for facilities and equipment, $13 billion annually for operations, $46 million for authorized expenditures for 2024, with it increasing by around $6 million each year and reaching $71.5 million by 2028. It also provides $45 million for weather reporting programs from 2024 to 2026 and $50 million for 2027 and 2028. 

The bill also proposes changes aimed at streamlining project delivery, improving FAA efficiency and operations, strengthening the general aviation sector, growing the aviation workforce by clearing hurdles to improve airport staffing, enhancing safety and passenger experience and encouraging innovation.

“For over a century, the United States has led the world in aviation safety and innovation, but our ‘Gold Standard’ status is being threatened by increasing global competition, rapid developments in technology, a shortage of aviation professionals, and FAA’s own inefficiency,” said House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Sam Graves, R-Mo. “Our bipartisan legislation will improve critical infrastructure for airports of all sizes, streamline the FAA bureaucracy, strengthen the nation’s general aviation sector, encourage the more rapid deployment of safe technological innovations and address workforce challenges throughout the aviation system.”

“The Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act is a good faith bipartisan compromise that creates a safer, cleaner, greener, and more accessible U.S. aviation system,” said Ranking Member Rick Larsen, D-Wash. “It transitions the nation to more sustainable fuels, makes a historic investment in the resiliency of our country’s airports, implements key safety measures, and bolsters accessibility and consumer protections for all passengers. This is also a jobs bill: it strengthens and diversifies the aviation workforce, recognizing that it is critical to our nation’s economic success. Moreover, it ensures the safe integration of new airspace entrants into U.S. skies to advance American innovation and cultivate good-paying jobs.”

The bill also includes a first-ever general aviation title that the House Transportation Committee hopes will “secure our aviation industry’s long-term success,” the Committee said in a release. 

The aviation industry has experienced major staffing shortages for pilots, mechanics and air traffic controllers in recent years and the bill removes barriers to pursuing aviation careers and provisions that would improve training standards in hopes of expanding the aviation workforce pipeline. 

The bill also encourages the safe testing and integration of new technologies, such as drones and Advanced Air Mobility, which integrates new transformational aircraft designs and flight technology into existing systems.

The House Ways and Means Committee also recently approved legislation that would renew aviation taxes for five years, a central part of the Federal Aviation Administration’s reauthorization.

Companion legislation is circling around the Senate in the form of a discussion draft and although a schedule for consideration of the Senate version has not yet been announced, there is speculation that it could happen as early as next week, the American Association of Airport Executives said.

“If we stay on track, this will be the first time we pass the five-year bill on time, and I look forward to working together to advance this bill by the August recess,” said Aviation Subcommittee ranking member Steve Cohen, D-Tenn. “Our reauthorization legislation addresses several key priorities such as bolstering airport infrastructure investments, enhancing aviation safety, protecting consumers including those with disabilities, addressing resiliency, ensuring the safe operation and integration of unmanned aircraft systems and advanced air mobility, and improving the development of the aviation workforce, including in minority communities.”

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