Press Releases

Larsen Applauds Passage of FAA Reauthorization Bill

Bipartisan, bicameral bill now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02), the lead Democrat on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, applauded House passage of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2024, a bipartisan, bicameral bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration and aviation infrastructure and safety programs for five years. The bill now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

“This bipartisan bill builds a safer, cleaner, greener and more accessible aviation system and creates more jobs here in Washington state,” said Larsen, a lead Democratic negotiator for the bill and former chair of the Aviation Subcommittee from 2019 to 2022. “This bill provides critical safety enhancements, grows Washington’s aviation workforce, invests in resilient infrastructure at Washington airports, sets clear priorities for advancing innovative aviation technologies being developed and produced in Northwest Washington, and provides robust consumer protections for the traveling public.

“The FAA Reauthorization Act is the result of months of good faith work between House and Senate committee leaders, and I look forward to President Biden signing the bill into law.”

Larsen Secures Funding for Washington Airports

The FAA Reauthorization Act includes several provisions that make bold, long-term investments in Washington airports (funding is per year for five years):

  • $4 billion for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP), which provides grants for the planning and development of public-use airports. In 2023, Washington airports were awarded more than $94 million in AIP grants, including more than $15 million for infrastructure projects at airports in Washington’s Second District:
    • $5.5 million for Paine Field in Everett to rehabilitate taxiway and apron and install perimeter fencing
    • $5.3 million for Skagit Regional Airport in Burlington to install airfield guidance signs, reconstruct taxiway lighting, rehabilitate the taxiway and reconfigure the existing taxiway
    • $2.2 million for Bellingham International Airport to acquire aircraft rescue and firefighting safety equipment, acquire snow removal equipment and modernize its snow removal equipment building
    • A total of $1.6 million for Friday Harbor Airport to improve airport drainage and erosion control and conduct airport-related environmental assessment
    • $330,000 for Lopez Island Airport to improve safety area, install an airport beacon and install weather reporting equipment
    • $150,000 for Orcas Island Airport to update its airport master plan
    • $100,000 for Anacortes Airport to improve airport drainage and erosion control
  • A provision in the bill allows Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac) to retain a public park on its property that the FAA required the airport to develop for aeronautical uses. The provision helps Sea-Tac avoid potentially up to $180 million in funding the airport would have owed the FAA.
  • $350 million for airports to replace PFAS foam and equipment
  • $200 million for airport runway safety and resiliency projects
  • $150 million for airports to reduce noise and carbon emissions

Larsen Secures Funding to Grow and Diversify the Aviation Workforce

The FAA Reauthorization Act includes several provisions to build the next generation workforce (funding is per year for five years):

  • $60 million for aviation workforce grants to build and grow the talent pipeline of pilots, aviation maintenance technical workers and aviation manufacturing workers. In 2022, Aviation Technical Services in Everett was awarded a $459,206 grant to support careers in aviation maintenance for graduating high school seniors through apprenticeship programs.
  • Of the $60 million for aviation workforce grants, $12 million is dedicated for the Willa Brown Aviation Education Program to recruit, retain and advance underrepresented communities in the aviation industry.

Larsen Secures Funding to Foster Innovation

The FAA Reauthorization Act includes several provisions to foster innovation in aerospace in Northwest Washington and create more jobs:

  • Supporting Hydrogen Production – The bill allows airports to use existing Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding for hydrogen and unleaded fuel infrastructure. Larsen recently visited ZeroAvia’s new facility at Paine Field in Everett where the company is manufacturing zero-emission hydrogen-electric propulsion systems for commercial aircraft. 
  • Supporting Emerging Aviation Technologies – The bill establishes a Center for Advanced Aviation Technologies to support the testing and advancement of new and emerging aviation technologies like electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL). The bill would also require the comptroller general to conduct a study assessing the safe and scalable operation and integration of electric aircraft into the national airspace system. Larsen’s district is home to magniX, an electric propulsion system manufacturer leading the charge on the development of more sustainable and energy-efficient aircraft.
  • Investing in Advanced Air Mobility – The bill requires the FAA to finalize rulemaking on the certification requirements, operating rules and pilot training for powered-lift advanced air mobility (AAM) aircraft. The bill also extends an FAA pilot grant program for state and local governments in Washington and across the country to plan for the deployment of AAM operations.
  • Safe Integration of Drones into Airspace – The bill requires the FAA to establish regulations that would allow unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to safely operate beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS), providing regulatory certainty to this innovative sector.
  • Expanding UAS Use and Jobs – The bill establishes a grant program to support the use of UAS when inspecting, repairing or constructing critical infrastructure. The bill also funds workforce training for UAS careers.

Larsen Delivers Key Consumer and Workforce Protections

The FAA Reauthorization Act includes several provisions to improve the air travel experience and safety for consumers and the aviation workforce:

  • Refunds for Cancelled or Significantly Delayed Flights – The bill requires airlines to refund passengers booked on flights that are subsequently cancelled, significantly delayed or changed. The bill also mandates that airlines notify passengers of their right to a refund and provides for the refund to be automatic.
  • Improvements for Travelers with Disabilities – The bill directs USDOT to create a roadmap for airlines to reduce damage to wheelchairs and mobility aids and better accommodate wheelchairs onboard aircraft and requires airlines to refund passengers who book flights on planes that cannot accommodate their mobility devices. It also establishes a pilot initiative that allows AIP funds to be used to improve airport accessibility.
  • $0 to Sit with Young Family Members – The bill requires airlines to allow passengers to sit next to their young child (up to age 12) whenever possible at no additional cost.
  • 24/7 Live Customer Service – The bill requires air carriers to provide 24/7 access to live customer service agents.
  • 65 Years Old for Pilot Retirement Age – The bill maintains the pilot retirement age of 65, aligning the United States with international standards and facilitating the development of the next generation of pilots.
  • For a full list of consumer protections included in the bill, click here.

Additional Information

  • For a full summary of provisions included in the bill, click here.
  • For full bill text, click here.
  • For video of Larsen’s House floor speech in support of the bill, click here.