Turbulence Ahead: Consequences of Delaying a Long-Term FAA Bill
2167 Rayburn House Office Building
This is a hearing of the Subcommittee on Aviation.
I want to thank all the witnesses for being here today. As you all know, we reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) every five years, but we’ve operated under a temporary extension of the 2018 authorization since September.
We passed the U.S. House of Representatives FAA reauthorization bill in July despite the chamber being the most polarized I’ve ever seen it. Yet, the Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act passed the chamber with an overwhelming vote of 351-69 after unanimous support in this committee.
That vote was the result of 2,000 unique requests from Members of Congress and stakeholders. I want to thank Subcommittee Ranking Member Steve Cohen, Full Committee Ranking Member Rick Larsen, and our Chairman Sam Graves, as well as the entire Aviation Subcommittee team and our colleagues within the full committee for their work to support such a comprehensive piece of reform.
Congress doesn’t do an FAA bill just because the agency’s authorization lapses, but because there’s an extraordinary amount of work to be done. Over the past few years, the FAA has experienced an immense set of challenges: the 737 MAX incidents, the bust-and-boom nature of the pandemic, and restrictions on flight capacity – particularly in Florida and in the Northeast – which have limited options for consumers. Additionally, we have seen aviation innovators develop technologies that go well beyond the regulatory framework or the organizational structure of the FAA. Meanwhile, we were without a U.S. Senate-confirmed FAA administrator for over a year and a half.
I look forward to working with the new administrator and am pleased that he has focused first and foremost on safety. Two decades ago, commercial aviation saw 140 deaths in a 10-year period; however, in the past decade there were only three. This shows immense progress in safety, and that needs to be maintained and strengthened. However, recently there has been an alarming instance of runway incursions.
It is absolutely critical that the United States Senate move forward to pass this reauthorization. Without a full reauthorization of the FAA, safety is at risk and American leadership in aviation technology and innovation is at risk. This agency cannot continue to remain in limbo on a number of key issues that require decisions, law changes, and organizational reforms. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of moving this bill forward, especially where safety is concerned.
Recently, the FAA’s independent National Airspace System Safety Review Team (SRT) issued a scathing report detailing a number of aviation industry issues that need to be fixed.
When I look at the U.S. House’s FAA reauthorization bill, I say, ‘Gosh, actually, I think we got it right.’ We addressed a number of those issues in our bill before the report was even issued, and I think we really have struck that right balance. I won’t tell you that the bill is perfect – but I will tell you that it is pretty close.
With that, I want to again thank the witnesses for being here. I again want to urge the United States Senate to move forward on the FAA bill as quickly as possible and look forward to hearing from our witnesses on why this is such a critical issue.
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