WASHINGTON, D.C. — A bill has been introduced in the House to extend the authorization of the FAA through July 15.
Meanwhile, the Senate has unveiled its own plan for the agency’s reauthorization.
In the House, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) introduced the bill to extend the FAA’s authorization. The legislation also extends key revenue provisions through March 31, 2017.
“Last month, the Transportation Committee approved the long-term Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act, which represents a profound, transformational reform of our aviation system and a departure from the status quo,” Shuster said. “Yesterday, the Senate introduced its own FAA legislation, and I look forward to working with them to produce a final bill. In the meantime, while both House and Senate continue efforts to move each bill forward, we need to pass an extension to ensure that the FAA and the federal aviation programs remain fully funded and functional.”
“By extending key revenue provisions, we ensure the Airport and Airway Trust Fund continues to serve American travelers,” Brady said.
The original bill included a controversial provision to privatize the Air Traffic Control function of the FAA. After much outcry from the GA community, that provision was pulled from the legislation.
The latest bill, H.R. 4721, the Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2016, is a clean extension of FAA programs and the Airport and Airway Trust Fund collection authority.
Without an extension, the authority to collect aviation taxes will lapse, and the Airport and Airway Trust Fund will be deprived of more than $30 million a day — funding needed for air traffic control, airport development, and other aviation programs.
In addition, airports will be unable to receive grant money that’s already been awarded to them, putting dozens of construction projects across the country at risk of delay, cost overrun, or cancellation. H.R. 4721 avoids these unnecessary consequences as Congress works to finalize a long-term aviation bill, officials noted.
Meanwhile, in the Senate Commerce Committee has unveiled its own version of FAA reauthorization legislation. Discussion on the bill — known as mark up — is slated for March 16.
The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2016 (S. 2658) would authorize FAA funding through September 2017.
According to officials with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the bill contains third class medical reform language that passed the Senate in December but does not include user fees for general aviation.
In addition, the legislation would authorize annual increases in Airport Improvement Program funding, streamline certification for GA aircraft, support a transition to unleaded aviation fuel, and make it easier to install modern safety equipment in legacy aircraft.
“This bill includes meaningful reforms that the general aviation community wants and needs — especially changes to the third class medical and the aircraft certification process,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “We hope the Senate will move quickly to pass this legislation, which could save general aviation pilots hundreds of millions of dollars, improve general aviation safety, and strengthen the GA industry.”
The FAA’s current authorization expires March 31. Both the House and the Senate have indicated they will approve another short-term extension ahead of the deadline, giving Congress time to complete negotiations on a reauthorization bill.