May 18, 2024

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FAA reauthorization would give $20 billion to airports

4 min read
FAA reauthorization would give  billion to airports

The new bipartisan bill that would provide the Federal Aviation Administration with reauthorization and $105 billion in appropriations through 2028 would also provide $19.35 billion in airport infrastructure improvement grants to fund the nation’s 3,300 airports.

The 1,069 page bill is the culmination of eight hearings over the last year or more and also authorizes $738 million over the five years for the National Transportation Safety Board.

“Our bill provides critical safety enhancements, grows America’s aviation workforce, invests in infrastructure at airports of all sizes, sets clear priorities for advancing innovative aviation solutions, improves the flying public’s travel experience, and ensures a healthy general aviation sector for years to come,” wrote Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash. and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas in a joint statement. “The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2024 is the culmination of months of work between House and Senate committee leaders, and we look forward to moving this agreement through both chambers as expeditiously as possible.”

Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) “Our bill provides critical safety enhancements, grows America’s aviation workforce, invests in infrastructure at airports of all sizes, sets clear priorities for advancing innovative aviation solutions, improves the flying public’s travel experience, and ensures a healthy general aviation sector for years to come,” wrote Reps. Sam Graves (R-MO), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Rich Larsen (D-WA) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) in a joint statement. “The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2024 is the culmination of months of work between House and Senate committee leaders, and we look forward to moving this agreement through both chambers as expeditiously as possible.”

U.S. House of Representatives

The bill would provide $66.7 billion for FAA operations that would provide funding for certain safety programs such as aircraft certification reform and air carrier oversight and would enable hiring, training and retention for staff such as technical engineers and air traffic controllers.

It also provides $17.8 billion for FAA facilities and equipment aimed at modernizing certain key technology systems and $1.59 billion for FAA research.

The $19.35 billion in airport infrastructure grant programs comes on top of the $970 million awarded to 114 airports in February as part of President Biden’s Infrastructure and Jobs Act, in addition to the $76.1 million awarded to airports in Washington, South Dakota, Nevada, North Dakota, Maine, Maryland, Indiana, Florida and Colorado, announced last week.

“By getting a five-year reauthorization agreement for both FAA and NTSB, Congress is showing that aviation safety and stronger consumer standards are a big priority,” wrote Cantwell in a statement. “More FAA safety inspectors, mandates on near miss technology and 25-hour cockpit voice recorders, and FAA upgrades to its systems ensure the gold standard in safety. It is also the first major upgrade to air traffic controller hiring in decades. Plus it sets into law for the first time the right to a refund when flights have been canceled or delayed more than three hours.”

But the bill is not an automatic just yet. Among the other provisions considered was an increase in the pilot retirement age to 67 from 65, which was left out of this version of the bill but it does include the addition of five roundtrip flights to Reagan Washington National Airport, one of the nation’s busiest airports.

“National is home to the busiest runway in America. The airport is designed to serve 15 million passengers annually. Last year it served 24 million,” a coalition of lawmakers from Maryland and Virginia wrote in a joint statement. “That is 9 million, or 60% over capacity. The airport has the third-highest flight cancellation rate in the country and one in every five flights is delayed by more than an hour. Just last week, two aircrafts nearly collided in a frightening near-miss incident. Any additional flights that are added to DCA will worsen delays, exacerbate pilot and flight crew exhaustion, and risk the safety of flights in and out of National Airport. The House understood that when we resoundingly defeated an effort to add more flights last year. For the safety of all who fly in and out of nation’s capital, the Senate must change course. Safety, not convenience, must come first.”

The bill’s text was unveiled Monday and could hit the Senate floor for a procedural vote later this week. Despite being touted as bipartisan, there are still many in the Senate that oppose it. 

Sen. Joe Manchin, D- W. Va., joined those Senators from the National Capital Region in denouncing the added flights to DCA and according to reports from Politico, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D- N.Y., also intends to try and add stablecoin and cannabis banking legislation to the bill.