Dozens of industry organizations including EAA and AOPA teamed to write a letter to Senate leaders Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer asking for long-term reauthorization of the FAA, which expires on Sept. 30 and has already passed the House.
From the letter,
Dear Senators McConnell and Schumer:
We write to urge that the Senate move expeditiously to consider legislation for a long-term reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The current authority for FAA activities was extended in March of this year but will expire on September 30. It is essential that the FAA is provided long-term authorization for its activities and programs to maintain and advance the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world. The U.S. aviation sector supports nearly 11 million jobs and contributes $1.6 trillion in economic activity. The aerospace industry needs dependable authority from the FAA and policymakers to continue to provide the highest level of service for aviation customers and meet the needs of the aviation industry and workforce.
The FAA and the traveling public have been subjected to short-term extensions of the
FAA’s authority since 2015, and these stopgap measures have negatively impacted the FAA’s activities. A five-year reauthorization of FAA activities passed the U.S. House of Representatives on April 27.
The FAA’s success and that of the aviation system will be significantly enhanced by progress and passage of a long-term FAA reauthorization bill. There is bipartisan support for moving the FAA bill forward now to ensure safety, economic benefits, regulatory reform, and international competitiveness through a long-term reauthorization bill for the FAA. We are eager to assist you in securing consideration of this important legislation and we appreciate your leadership.
Sincerely, Signed by dozens of organizations.
Meanwhile, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) introduced a new bill in July called the Security and Revitalizing Aviation (SARA) Act of 2018, to make general aviation more accessible and sustainable and to enhance protections for pilots.
In addressing the pilot shortage in the U.S., the SARA Act lays out a number of initiatives to help revitalize the future of general aviation. A proposed Aircraft Pilot Education Program would make aviation careers more accessible through enabling high school students to take ground school classes and encouraging the development and sharing of an aviation curriculum.
Reforms for designated pilot examiners (DPEs), including allowing more daily checkrides and removing arbitrary geographic boundaries, would also help maintain an appropriate number of DPEs to facilitate growth of the pilot population.
The bill includes number of protections for pilots as well, such as ensuring continued due process to pilots and extending it to FAA designees, and protecting volunteer pilots from liability as long as they follow appropriate procedures.
“We greatly appreciate Sen. Inhofe bringing this legislation forward and Congress for recognizing the urgency to maintain America’s leadership in the aviation community through this bill,” said Jack J. Pelton, EAA CEO and Chairman of the Board. “As EAA uses its own programs to inspire and encourage the next generation of pilots, the support of our congressional leadership will help focus on the needs and opportunities in the aviation world.”