Shuster, LoBiondo introduce major FAA reauthorization bill

The Aviation Innovation, Reform and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act, H.R. 4441, was introduced on Wednesday by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) and Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ).

The legislation establishes an independent, not-for-profit corporation outside of the federal government to modernize U.S. air traffic control (ATC) services. Independent ATC providers are standard worldwide. The U.S. is one of the last industrialized nation to not yet implement such a program. According to reports, ATC systems have maintained or improved safety levels, improved ATC services and lowered ATC service costs.

“The United States has led the world in aviation since pioneering this modern mode of transportation,” Shuster said. “We have the safest system in the world, and we will continue to do so under this bill. But our system is incredibly inefficient, and it will only get worse as passenger levels grow and as the FAA falls further behind in modernizing the system. Furthermore, the FAA’s overly bureaucratic certification processes are handicapping American companies and causing us to fall behind our competition. The AIRR Act is transformational legislation that prepares the U.S. aviation system for the future, helps ensure a modern, safe system that benefits passengers and the economy, and keeps America competitive in a vital industry.”

The AIRR Act, which would serve as a six-year reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), maintains the FAA’s role as the nation’s aviation safety regulator, governed by a board representing the aviation system’s users and the public interest.

The bill would also streamline the FAA’s aviation equipment and aircraft certification processes while providing additional consumer protections, addressing aviation safety issues, giving additional tools to the FAA for the safe integration of unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAV) and unmanned aircraft systems, (UAS) and providing for airport infrastructure improvements nationwide.

“While the U.S. continues to have the safest aviation system in the world, it is clear we do not have the most efficient or effective system for future growth,” LoBiondo said. “I commend Chairman Shuster for his willingness to engage and openness to ideas not only from members of the Committee, but from stakeholders across the industry to modernize and transform our aviation system to meet 21st century demands. We remain committed to moving forward with the AIRR Act, listening to and incorporating additional ideas from our colleagues and stakeholders that will strengthen our aviation system.”

The AIRR Act was developed over the last two years through numerous meetings, listening sessions, roundtables and hearings to gather input and ideas from transportation officials, stakeholders and policy experts.

The last long-term reauthorization of the FAA was passed in 2012, after more than a dozen stop-gap deals kept the federal agency afloat for over four years. The current authorization for the FAA and aviation programs expires at the end of March.

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