House Passes Bills on Pandemic Preparedness, UAS Use

 - September 15, 2022, 12:50 PM
The U.S. House cleared bills on aviation preparedness for future pandemics and support for UAS use and training. Both are headed to the Senate for consideration.

The U.S. House yesterday passed a bill that directs federal agencies and aviation stakeholders to develop a national strategy on health and safety protections for future pandemics. The National Aviation Preparedness Plan Act, H.R.884, was introduced last year by House aviation subcommittee chair Rick Larsen (D-Washington) and Rep. Don Beyer (D-Virginia). It was passed by a 293-133 vote.

Larsen noted the Government Accountability Office seven years ago pointed out that the U.S. lacked a comprehensive plan aimed at preventing and containing diseases through air travel and recommended the immediate development of such a strategy. “Lessons learned from the Ebola and Covid-19 pandemics show the urgent need for a plan to ensure the safety of aviation crews, employees, and passengers during future public health emergencies,” he said.

Under the bill, the Department of Transportation would collaborate with the Departments of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security to develop a national aviation preparedness plan. The bill further calls for coordination with stakeholders and seeks effective sanitization measures, as well as the availability of personal protective equipment and other safety measures.

NBAA praised the passage of the bill, which heads next to the Senate for consideration. “The health of our nation’s aviation workforce is vital to maintaining our transportation network in times of crisis, as we’ve seen throughout the Covid-19 pandemic,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen.

Bolen also lauded House passage this week of H.R.5315, the Drone Infrastructure Inspection Grant Act, which would provide $100 million in grants for local governments to use UAS for inspecting, repairing, or constructing roads, public utilities, and other infrastructure. It further includes $100 million for UAS workforce training.

“At a time when the safety of our national infrastructure is of great concern to us all, this legislation would implement these key aviation systems to greatly speed the inspection process while also garnering support for UAS in other roles,” he said.