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House Passes FAA Bill with Broad Backing

Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 393-13 to approve a five-year bill, H.R. 4, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, after two recent short-term funding patches. A total of 254 amendments were submitted of which 116 were considered by the House, with the vast majority passed en bloc (a group of amendments offered and considered in a group). Only 9 of the amendments were either rejected or withdrawn.

Passage of the roughly $97 billion package featured bipartisan support for a number of issues important to NASAO including expansion of the state block grant program from 10 to 20 states, continuation and reform to the critically important Federal Contract Tower Program, the creation of a remote air traffic control tower pilot program, and increased funding for the Essential Air Service program (EAS). Also included was language to expand commercial drone operations, and a boost to airport construction funding (AIP).

NASAO was pleased to report that an amendment, sponsored by Rep. Fleischmann (R-TN), to reduce the time and cost of construction for critical pavement projects while maintaining the highest level of safety, was adopted. NASAO worked closely with Rep. Fleischmann’s office on this legislation and appreciate his leadership for taking on this issue, which will save the states millions of dollars and increase safety.

Defeating the ATC privatization provision included in the AIRR Act was a top priority in the 115th Congress for NASAO and many other organizations. Once proposals seeking to transfer the FAA’s air traffic control functions into a nonprofit corporation, were stripped from the bill, momentum grew for passage of a multi-year extension. NASAO had a significant impact on the debate with their unique opposition statement.

Other significant reforms included in H.R. 4 were the establishment of new certification performance objectives for the FAA, an increase in the duration of registration for noncommercial general aviation aircraft to 10 years from three, and authorization of $10 million for the small community air service program annually through 2023. Of those funds, $4.8 million would be used for a pilot program that would provide grants to help state and local governments negotiate lower fares with air carriers.

Now that the House has passed their FAA bill, everyone’s attention will turn to the Senate. Current FAA Reauthorization does not expire until September 2018, but there is optimism that the Senate will begin consideration of their FAA bill before the August recess.

Categories: News
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