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Larsen Applauds House Passage of Long-Term FAA Reauthorization Bill

Today, Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02), the top Democrat on the House Subcommittee on Aviation, applauded the passage of the long-term, five-year Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill.

“This has been a long time coming. Congress has not enacted a long-term FAA reauthorization bill since 2012 and the agency is running on its fifth extension. With general aviation supporting more than 30,000 jobs in Washington state, this comprehensive, bipartisan bill provides long-term and predictable funding for the FAA, improves aviation safety, addresses workforce needs and advances vital research in the aviation field.

“In Washington state, my constituents rely on airports of all sizes. In my hometown of Arlington, general aviation at Arlington Municipal Airport is vital, and the annual fly-in brings in people from across the country. Bellingham International Airport in Northwest Washington is seeking further investments in terminal and operations infrastructure to help keep pace with passenger needs. And Paine Field Airport in Snohomish County is a growing hub in the Pacific Northwest, with the construction of a new terminal and expanded air service expected later this year. Each of these airports plays a different, yet important role in serving the local community and the national aviation network.

“As passenger growth continues, Congress must ensure airports across Washington state have the right tools in place to safely accommodate this new demand. The FAA reauthorization bill makes a host of improvements to make skies safer, including:

  • Ensuring the FAA safety workforce is utilized efficiently and receives enhanced training;
  • Strengthening the FAA's current voluntary safety reporting program for pilots so that critical safety enhancements are not needlessly delayed;
  • Making progress toward NextGen implementation through engagement with local communities and airports in the process;
  • Improving the federal Contract Tower Program to allow airports, like Bellingham International Airport, to make investments in their critical infrastructure; and
  • Ensuring flight attendants have sufficient rest between duty periods.

“I am pleased the FAA reauthorization bill includes my proposal to create a Youth Access to American Jobs in Aviation Task Force at the FAA. The task force will convene aviation trade schools and community colleges, airline carriers, industry, labor unions and other relevant stakeholders to develop recommendations on expanding access to STEM-based apprenticeships. By preparing students to immediately succeed in manufacturing, engineering, maintenance and other aviation-focused careers, this bill is a win-win-win for job seekers, the aviation sector, and the U.S. economy.

“The FAA reauthorization bill includes a title on unmanned aircraft systems, or drones, which are flourishing in the skies at a pace we did not imagine years ago. Provisions in the bill will help the commercial drone industry safely thrive, while also addressing the many issues these new users present as they become integrated into U.S. airspace.

“And finally, this legislation is a win for the environment and local communities in Washington’s Second District. Through research and development of new technologies under the FAA’s Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions and Noise (CLEEN) program, this legislation will help find quieter ways for plane engines to fly,” said Larsen.

“No one understands and appreciates the needs for the aerospace industry better than Congressman Rick Larsen,” said Washington State University President Kirk Schulz. “We are grateful for the strong working relationship we have with our Congressional Delegation and appreciate his leadership in ensuring that WSU’s collaborative research supports the innovation needed for the aerospace sector to stay competitive now and into the future.” 

For years, Larsen has led the charge for long-term, comprehensive FAA reauthorization. In the 115th Congress, he has been at the helm of a series hearings exploring the needs of aviation stakeholders, including: growth in the drone and commercial space industrymodernizing the national airspace as part of the FAA’s NextGen programalleviating congestion and improving user experience at Sea-Tac and reforming aircraft certification to help U.S. manufacturers and transport products to market more quickly.

“The United States has the biggest, most complex and busiest aviation system in the world,” said Larsen. “By enacting a long-term FAA reauthorization, the United States will remain the gold standard in aviation.”