Congress To Step Up Focus on AAM in Reauthorization Bill

 - September 21, 2022, 1:03 PM
Left to right: Rep. Garret Graves (R-Louisiana), Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Washington), and GAMA v-p government affairs Paul Feldman (Photo: Kerry Lynch/AIN)

Congressional leaders are planning to provide “clear direction” to the FAA on preparing for the emerging advanced air mobility (AAM) segment in the upcoming FAA reauthorization bill, House aviation subcommittee leaders said today. Speaking during a Honeywell Air Mobility Summit in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, House aviation subcommittee chairman Rick Larsen (D-Washington) said he expects that the upcoming bill would contain a title on AAM to make sure that the FAA is properly organized to focus on the regulatory and operational requirements in a timely fashion.

Larsen expressed concern that the agency has looked at AAM as a research and development project and stressed that “it’s not R&D.”

Rep. Garret Graves (R-Louisiana), the ranking Republican on the committee, agreed and further stressed that Congress needs to ensure that the FAA modernizes its approach so it is not applying a 1970s approach to regulation to 2030s technology. He added, though, that Congress also needs to be thoughtful about what it assigns to the FAA in the upcoming reauthorization bill so the agency has the capacity to address AAM.

Larsen stressed that safety must be addressed, but also noted a range of other issues such as electric charging stations and vertiport infrastructure. However, he deferred his response when asked about comments reported on AAM user fees. Both Larsen and Graves did say they believe the upcoming bill would be bipartisan.

Also on Wednesday, House Advanced Air Mobility Caucus leaders Jimmy Panetta (D-California) and Jay Obernolte (R-California) discussed the importance of educating Congress about AAM, noting this has been a pivotal year for the sector and lawmakers should focus on what they can do to enable it to ensure the U.S. maintains a leadership role.

“2022 has been a remarkable year for this industry,” agreed NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen, who moderated the panel, noting the formation of the caucus in June.

The Honeywell summit further hosted a panel of leaders from various AAM developers and also was to hold a session with FAA officers from the UAS Integration Office, as well as discuss issues related to discuss uncrewed aircraft systems.