Senate Commerce Committee Passes 5-Year Senate FAA Reauthorization Focused on Improving Safety, Advancing Technology
Feb 08 2024
WASHINgTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation passed the bipartisan Senate Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2023. The legislation includes several provisions to strengthen safety standards and oversight at the FAA and responds to safety concerns from recent aviation accidents and near-misses. After passage, U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) – ranking member of the Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation – released the following statement:
“Our aviation system is strained, and advancing the FAA Reauthorization Act will help address challenges and better ensure the FAA can carry out its core mission - the safety of the flying public. In addition to providing certainty for the FAA, this legislation bolsters the aviation workforce, addresses the FAA regulatory backlog, safeguards rural air travel and accelerates new technology and innovation in the aviation industry.
“Under this legislation, Kansas will have an important role to play in advancing our aviation industry including research and development and hypersonic flight testing. While there is much work to be done to make certain this legislation positions the FAA to handle the challenges we face today and in the future, I am pleased we have reached this critical point.”
Sen. Moran’s FAA Priorities:
- Bolster the aviation workforce and strengthen the supply chain: Provisions from Sens. Moran and Duckworth’s legislation, the Aviation Workforce Development Enhancement Act, were included in the FAA Reauthorization Act to help meet future needs in the aviation workforce.
- Improve the FAA backlog: Sens. Moran and Raphael Warnock’s (D-Ga.) legislation, the FAA Advancements Act, were included in the FAA Reauthorization Act to help improve the FAA’s certification processes and implementation of bilateral agreements, while also increasing the transparency surrounding the development of regulatory materials. Ensuring safe and efficient processes makes certain the U.S. aerospace industry remains competitive on a global scale.
- Promote women in aviation: Sen. Moran joined Sens. Duckworth, Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) to introduce the Promoting Women in Aviation Act, which was included in the FAA Reauthorization Act to codify the board established in the 2018 FAA Reauthorization bill and support the aviation workforce at-large. Two Kansans previously served on the board ensuring Kansas voices were represented.
- Enable Hypersonic Flight Testing: This legislation includes a plan for the administrator to establish procedures for the testing of hypersonic flight. The Kansas Supersonic Transportation Corridor (SSTC) will be an asset for companies to utilize for the testing of supersonic flight.
- Expand access to travel for people with disabilities: Sen. Moran introduced the Joint Center of Excellence for Advanced Materials and Safety Act to invest new resources into the FAA’s Joint Center of Excellence formed by Wichita State University and the University of Washington.
- This provision broadens the scope of research conducted at the Centers of Excellence to include testing for accessible air travel for people with disabilities, including in-cabin wheelchair users and passengers with mobility challenges.
- Support staffing for Air Traffic Control: To address Air Traffic Controller staffing and training concerns, Sen. Moran included a provision to require a review to determine the number of Certified Professional Controllers (CPCs) needed to meet facility operational and statutory requirement.
- Attract air service to small communities: Provisions from Sen. Moran’s Small Community Air Service Enhancement Act were included in the FAA Reauthorization Act to help bolster and attract new air services to small communities.
- Address new aircraft entering the airspace: Sen. Moran worked to secure extensions and expansions of existing programs that support the drone industry and advanced air mobility by safely and efficiently introducing these new technologies into the air space. This also codifies the BEYOND program.
- Modernize ground-based infrastructure: This provision would initiate action to replace outdated Air Traffic Control systems that were designed in the 1970s and 1980s and are no longer efficient to operate.
- Expands the national strategy on Advanced Air Mobility (AAM): Legislation introduced by Sen. Moran last Congress established an interagency working group (IWG) to collaborate with the civil aviation industry on the maturation of AAM. This provision expands the scope of the IWG to consider recommendations for research and development.
- Reform the Federal Contract Tower Program: Kansas is home to eight air traffic control towers that participate in the FAA’s Federal Contract Tower program and provide important safety services at small airports nationwide. Sen. Moran secured provisions to better equip towers within the program and increase liability insurance to account for the safety ecosystem, as well as ensure the durability of the program.
- Safeguard the Essential Air Service program: Throughout his time in Congress, Sen. Moran has advocated for the Essential Air Service program and worked to keep the program intact to help make certain small airports and rural communities are connected to the national airspace system.
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