Senate Continues FAA Budget Tussle for Fifth Day
Slowed by a plethora of amendments, including many that have little or nothing to do with aviation, the Senate is continuing to plod through a fifth day of debate on an FAA reauthorization package that would accelerate modernization of the ATC system; address critical safety concerns raised by the crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 more than a year ago near Buffalo, N.Y.; improve rural community access to air service; and help secure more than 100,000 jobs. Among the provisions for more stringent pilot training is one that would raise the minimum requirement for a commercial pilot certificate from 250 hours to 800 hours. The House of Representatives, which passed its version of FAA authorization last May, approved a separate Airline Safety and Pilot Training Act of 2009 (H.R.3371) in October that would raise the minimum number of hours even higher–to 1,500. When FAA reauthorization finally passes the Senate, that version will have to be reconciled with the House-passed FAA reauthorization–as well as H.R.3371–before it can be sent to President Obama for signing into law. Meanwhile, the House of Representatives passed another 90-day extension of the FAA this morning. The current 11th extension expires March 31.