FAA Reauthorization Action Heats Up

Both the House and Senate released versions of FAA reauthorization proposals this week. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster unveiled the 21st Century Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization Act (21st Century AIRR Act) yesterday, which moves air traffic control operations from FAA to a private non-profit called the American Air Navigation Services Corporation. Two key changes are designed to help this proposal succeed where last year’s version failed: a change to the board of directors’ membership of the non-profit entity and the removal of general aviation users from having to contribute to the newly created entity. Changes that have a more local impact include: significant increase in funding for Essential Air Service; removal of restrictions on charging a higher passenger facility fee (though the cap remains $4.50); the sunsetting of a program to pilot more fuel efficient ground control equipment; a number of studies, including the Essential Air Service (EAS) program and local effects of airport noise; and a new pilot program to help maintain air service at underserved airports.

The Senate draft, released today, has the more straightforward name of Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2017. The Senate version does not remove ATC from FAA control, so there is obviously one enormous sticking point that needs to be resolved. We are reviewing the recently-released Senate draft and hope to have a comparison of the two bills out sometime soon.

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