In Hearing Featuring Alaska Airlines CEO, Larsen Explores NextGen Air Traffic Control Improvements & Unveils Consumer Protection Legislation
WASHINGTON, D.C.—In a hearing of the House Aviation Subcommittee, Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden and the Subcommittee’s top-Ranking Democrat, Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02), discussed progress being made to modernize the national airspace as part of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s NextGen program and Larsen announced new legislation aimed at protecting consumers from hidden baggage fees and large-scale flight delays.
Today’s hearing – which focused on the needs of airlines and other aviation operators – was the third in a series of hearings focused on reauthorizing the FAA. The agency’s authority expires in September 2017.
“The U.S. airspace is the busiest and most complex in the world and is undergoing a historic shift in modernization in the form of the Federal Aviation Administration’s NextGen program,” said Larsen. “Alaska Airlines has been a strong advocate for the NextGen program, which has delivered more than $2.7 billion in benefits to airlines and operators of general aviation aircraft, and is expected to produce $13 billion in benefits for the government and users by 2020 and over $160 billion by 2030. I understand that NextGen’s performance-based navigation procedures allow Alaska Airlines flights to fly more directly and precisely into Juneau each day, and the Greener Skies initiative improves efficiency of the airline’s flights landing at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.”
Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden spoke to the opportunity that exists for modernizing the nation’s aviation infrastructure. In particular, while Alaska currently utilizes NextGen technologies, it is eager to connect operations systems-wide in order to maximize NextGen’s benefits as safely and efficiently as possible.
Larsen lauded the findings of a recent DOT Inspector General report which found that some regional airlines are increasing pay to attract additional pilots, and spoke to the importance of reforms to what he called “out-of-date federal regulations on flight attendants’ flight and duty periods.”
Additionally, Larsen and Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR- 04) unveiled legislation aimed at boosting consumer protections. “Unexpected fees and lengthy delays are two surefire ways to ruin someone’s trip,” Larsen said. “By requiring airlines to be more transparent about baggage fees and how they will help passengers affected by large-scale network meltdowns, the Know Before You Fly Act would institute long-overdue consumer protections for folks who fly.”
Recently, Larsen has helped lead FAA reauthorization hearings where he emphasized ways to alleviate congestion and improve user experience at Sea-Tac and reform aircraft certification to help U.S. manufacturers become more competitive and create jobs by saving time, making products safer and transporting them to market more quickly.
Larsen has consistently advocated for a long-term, comprehensive FAA reauthorization.