The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) and the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) are urging the Senate leadership to bring the FAA reauthorization bill, S.1405, to the floor for a vote as soon as possible. The Senate Commerce Committee approved its version of the FAA reauthorization bill a year ago, but it had been held up by a provision regarding a measure that would alter the 1,500-hour requirements for pilots, as well as by a lack of consensus with the House over the U.S. air traffic control organization. The House, which passed its version of the comprehensive FAA bill in April, dropped the controversial ATC measure, and Senate Commerce Committee chairman John Thune (R-South Dakota) has long indicated a willingness to drop the 1,500-hour measure.
Even so, the Senate bill has not been scheduled for a vote and the fate of it this year has remained uncertain with some fearing it could get stalled by election-year politics or by other priorities in the Senate. If it does not pass this year, Congress would need to sign off on another FAA extension and then go back to the drawing board with new FAA reauthorization bills next year.
In a joint letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-New York), GAMA and AIA stressed key reforms in the current FAA bills, including in the areas surrounding certification and regulation, that they said “will benefit businesses large and small, as well as drive industry innovation and job growth.” The bills will stimulate exports and jobs and increase global competitiveness the associations added.
“With similar legislation already having passed the U.S. House of Representatives, we believe now is the right time for the U.S. Senate to decisively act to improve the FAA certification and regulatory process,” the associations said in the joint letter.
The associations stressed the need to act sooner, to provide time for the House and Senate to hash out differences between their respective bills before the end of September, when the current FAA authorization is set to expire.