U.S. House passes bill to improve the aviation system

WASHINGTON, D.C.(DRGNews)- The United States House has passed bipartisan legislation making reforms to the nation’s aviation system.

South Dakota US Representative Dusty Johnson says Essential Air Service airports– such as the ones in Pierre, Aberdeen and Watertown– are an important piece of the nation’s transportation infrastructure.

Johnson says there doesn’t need to be a commercial airport everywhere, but they do need to be accessible in rural areas.

The bill now moves to the Senate.

Originally, language in the “Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act” would have charged a 5% cost-share to rural passenger airports participating in the federally subsidized program. The bill passed Thursday included Johnson’s amendment preventing that.

Additionally, Johnson’s amendment to accelerate environmental reviews for FAA projects was adopted unanimously. The amendment encourages the FAA to adopt interactive digital platforms, which have proven to shorten the amount of time spent reviewing documents for large projects by 50%. A typical environmental review process takes an average of 6.5 years to complete.

In its current form, the “Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act”:

  • Improves FAA Efficiency and Operations
    • The bill makes targeted changes to the organizational structure of the FAA to improve overall efficiency of the agency, allow for innovation, and streamline the regulatory process. The bill does so in a manner that will not harm the FAA’s ongoing efforts while simultaneously ensuring the agency is better organized to lead in an advanced aviation future.
  • Strengthens America’s General Aviation (GA) Sector
    • Most of our aviation professionals, including pilots and mechanics, get their start in GA. This bill recognizes that the success of the United States aviation system is built upon a strong GA foundation and includes the first-ever general aviation title to secure our aviation industry’s long-term success.
  • Grows the Aviation Workforce
    • Our aviation system is experiencing a shortage of qualified workers, including pilots, mechanics, and air traffic controllers. This bill addresses workforce challenges by removing barriers to pursuing aviation careers, expanding the aviation workforce pipeline, improving training standards, and more.
  • Invests in United States Airport Infrastructure
    • Airports connect our communities, create jobs, and drive economic growth. The bill authorizes robust funding for airport infrastructure, including prioritizing investments for small and GA airports, and streamlining project delivery.
  • Upholds America’s Gold Standard in Safety
    • America’s aviation system is safe, but the system is not immune to stress and must continually be made safer. The bill addresses several safety issues, including the recent uptick in runway incursions, to ensure the United States, and the FAA, remain the world’s gold standard in aviation safety.
  • Encourages Aviation Innovation
    • America has been a leader in aviation innovation. Unfortunately, due to bureaucratic hurdles, endless research, and pilot programs that are not leading to the development and incorporation of new technologies, China and other countries are beginning to surpass the United States. The bill encourages the safe yet more efficient testing and integration of new technologies, such as drones and Advanced Air Mobility (AAM), into the airspace.
  • Enhances the Passenger Experience
    • While many parts of the aviation system typically function without incident despite a growing volume of travelers, one weak link in a trip can ruin a passenger’s experience. The bill delivers reforms that will enhance the experience for the traveling public.
  • Authorizes the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
    • As the independent Federal agency responsible for investigating all civil aviation accidents, in addition to accidents in other modes of transportation, the NTSB plays an important role in transportation safety. Last authorized in the 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act, this bill provides updates to the NTSB’s authorization.