United States Congress sends five-year FAA reauthorisation to the Senate for final vote

The United States’ House of Representatives has now sent to the Senate legislation that includes a long-term reauthorisation of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

While the controversial measure to reform the nation’s air traffic control organisation was left out of the legislation, the bill does feature the requirement for a detailed analysis of air traffic control costs imposed and revenues received by the various community of airspace users—data that could be used in future battles over user fees and ATC privatisation or separation.

Congressional leaders said this bill authorises FAA programmes and airport infrastructure investments for the next five years, promotes safety and leadership in aviation and the aerospace industry, and improves the flying experience for passengers.

It authorises the FAA until September 30, 2023, includes numerous provisions that will improve aviation safety, streamline regulatory burdens, strengthen job creation, encourage competitiveness and innovation, and stimulate exports. Specifically, the bill:

  • requires the US Department of Transportation Secretary establish a Safety Oversight and Certification Advisory Committee that includes representatives of commercial and general aviation, including aircraft, engine, and avionics manufacturers, and maintenance, repair and overhaul organisations. The Committee’s work will focus on certification and regulatory process reform, safety management systems, rulemaking improvements and enhancing global competitiveness;
  • strengthens the effectiveness of the Organizational Designation Authorization (ODA) process and oversight to enhance the predictability and efficiency of the certification process for new products and technology;
  • sends a clear message to the FAA to improve safety cooperation with international partners, facilitate improvements and end delays in the validation and acceptance of aviation products;
  • requires the FAA establish a comprehensive regulatory database and a Regulatory Communications Consistency Board to reduce regulatory inconsistency at the agency;
  • calls for the FAA to establish a Task Force on Flight Standards Reform to help drive needed improvements in the FAA Flight Standards Office. The Task Force includes manufacturers and will look at how the certification, operational evaluation and entry into service of newly manufactured aircraft can be improved;
  • asks the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a review of the FAA’s Part 23 rulemaking implementation to ensure the agency is working with industry to maximise the rulemaking’s effectiveness;
  • mandates the FAA Aircraft Registry Office in Oklahoma City remain open in the event of a government shutdown or emergency furlough; and
  • addresses the aviation workforce shortage by establishing a ‘Youth Access to American Jobs in Aviation Task Force’ and a ‘Women in Aviation Advisory Board’; directs the GAO to initiate a study on the current and future supply of aviation and aerospace workforce; and establishes a pilot grant programme to train pilots and maintenance and technical workers.

“I am proud of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s bipartisan work on this legislation,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster.  “Not only does it provide FAA programmes with stability and certainty for the next five years, its numerous reforms will allow America’s aviation industry to continue to safely innovate, thrive, and lead.”

“Today’s passage of a five-year FAA reauthorisation demonstrates that good, bipartisan legislation can still advance in Congress despite these polarizing times. This bill ensures long-term stability at the FAA, allowing critical research programmes, including those at South Jersey’s FAA Technical Center, to continue without interruption,” said Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ).