Tucked within the comprehensive FAA reauthorization bill, H.R.302, is a four-year reauthorization for the National Transportation Safety Board that includes an annual budget reaching $114.4 million by 2022. The House and Senate jointly released H.R.302 on Saturday, combining FAA, NTSB, and TSA reauthorizations, along with disaster-relief measures, in a nearly 1,200-page bill. The House is hoping to consider the bill tomorrow, with Senate consideration following shortly after that. Congress is facing a September 30 deadline to reauthorize the FAA.
The NTSB reauthorization language would require the agency to make available written descriptions of video or other photography and/or still photographs as part of hearing information or docket disclosures, provided that individual privacy is protected.
Further, the bill seeks a more complete disclosure of the Safety Board’s methodology in arriving at its Most Wanted list, including calling for a report to Congress. The required disclosures would include its assessment of risk and data used, how recommendations would reduce risk, and the practicality and feasibility of achieving that risk reduction through implementation of recommendations. Additionally, the bill calls for five-year reviews of the NTSB’s recommendations in general and would authorize the agency to acquire unmanned aircraft systems to help conduct its investigations.
The NTSB language joins the hundreds of provisions included in the FAA bill and scores of others involving the TSA, disaster relief and other measures. One aviation item, however, that dropped out in the compromise agreement was a measure to require mandatory retirement of Part 91K and 135 pilots at the age of 70 for the largest operators. That measure, designed to primarily affect NetJets, had been included in the House bill but met resistance in the Senate.