WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02), along with Chair Sam Graves (MO-06), introduced the Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration. The legislation maintains American leadership in aviation safety and aerospace innovation, strengthens and diversifies the U.S. aviation workforce, makes groundbreaking investments in sustainability and resiliency, and improves consumer protections and accessibility.
“The FAA reauthorization bill is a good faith bipartisan effort that creates a safer, cleaner, greener and more accessible U.S. aviation system,” said Larsen, the lead Democrat on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee and former chair of the Aviation Subcommittee. “The bill increases the resiliency of airports in the Pacific Northwest, hastens the transition to more sustainable fuels, implements key safety measures, and bolsters accessibility and consumer protections for all passengers.
“A strong Washington state aviation workforce means a strong American aviation workforce. This bill invests in and diversifies our unparalleled workforce, creating shared economic prosperity. Moreover, it provides regulatory clarity to new entrants to the U.S. airspace to safely advance innovation and cultivate jobs that pay well.
“I look forward to moving this bipartisan bill to secure Washington’s place in America’s aviation future.”
Specifically, the Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act:
Protects and Enhances the U.S. Aviation Workforce
- Expands Workforce Grants – Triples authorized funding for the FAA’s section 625 aviation workforce development program, totaling $45 million, and creates a new eligibility for aviation manufacturing. It also creates the Willa Brown Aviation Education Program, a 20 percent set-aside to support recruitment programs in lower-income and underserved communities.
- Develops Controller Workforce Plan – Directs FAA to hire more air traffic controllers and directs the Transportation Research Board to prepare for future air traffic controller workforce needs.
- Better Supports DBEs – Allows the DOT to provide technical assistance and training to Disadvantaged Business Enterprises to help them compete on projects.
Improves Aviation Safety
- Expands Ground Surveillance – Requires the FAA to expand airport ground surveillance and detection equipment capable of alerting air traffic controllers of a potential runway incursion to all large and medium hub airports. Currently, this equipment is only deployed at 43 U.S. airports.
- Regulates Foreign Repair Stations – Ensures that foreign aircraft repair stations are subject to the same standards as American repair stations.
- Implements Secondary Barriers – Requires the FAA to finalize the proposed rule on secondary barriers to better protect aircraft flight decks.
Builds Environmental Sustainability
- Builds Fuel Infrastructure – Grows Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding to $4 billion and allows airports to use AIP funding for hydrogen and unleaded fuel infrastructure.
- Invests in Airport Resiliency – Allows airports to use AIP funding for environmental resiliency projects.
- Dedicates Funding for Environmental Projects at Airports – Creates a minimum level of funding of $150 million for airport noise and environmental programs within the AIP program.
- Expands Voluntary Airport Low Emission Program - Expands the FAA’s Voluntary Airport Low Emission (VALE) program to all commercial airports and streamlines eligibility requirements to help improve airport air quality.
- Transitions Away from Unleaded Fuels – Requires the FAA to develop a plan to ensure general aviation aircraft can transition away from unleaded fuels by 2030.
Supports U.S. Innovation
- Extends the Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) Planning Program – Continues to fund grants for state and local governments and communities to plan for the development and deployment of AAM operations.
- Enhances Wildfire Response with Drones – Requires FAA to coordinate with the U.S. Forest Service to develop a plan to use drones in wildfire detection, mitigation, and suppression. Directs FAA to provide a liaison to the National Interagency Fire Center to facilitate wildfire response efforts using drones.
- Funds Drone Infrastructure Inspection Grants– Provides funding for state, local and tribal governments to use UAS to visually inspect, repair and maintain critical infrastructure, and invests in training for the U.S. workforce to use these advanced technologies.
- Requires UAS Beyond Line-of-Sight Rulemaking – Directs the FAA to issue a proposed rulemaking that would establish airworthiness and operational regulations for drones to safely operate beyond visual line-of-sight, providing regulatory clarity to this innovative sector. As new entrants emerge in U.S. skies, this bill ensures that the important voices of local communities and current airspace users are also heard.
Strengthens Consumer Protections and Increases Accessibility
- Addresses Reimbursements for Incurred Costs – Directs the DOT to require airlines to develop policies addressing reimbursement for passengers for hotel and meal costs when a flight is cancelled or significantly delayed.
- Boosts Airline Operational Resiliency – Requires airlines to develop airline operation resiliency plans to help prevent and limit the impact of mass flight disruptions.
- Fosters Accessible Air Travel – Directs DOT to develop recommendations to reduce damage to wheelchairs and mobility aids in air transportation. Authorizes FAA to conduct critical research on passenger aircraft accessibility.
- Advances Family Seating – Requires airlines to establish policies allowing passengers to sit next to their young children if adjacent seats are available.
Other Notable Provision
- Resolves Sea-Tac Land Issue – Allows Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to retain a public park on their property that FAA has required the airport to develop for aeronautical uses. The provision would help Sea-Tac avoid potentially up to $180 million in federal funding the airport would have owed FAA.
The House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee will debate and amend the Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act on Tuesday, June 13 at 7:00 a.m. PDT/10:00 a.m. EDT. Visit https://democrats-transportation.house.gov/ for more information.