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Aerospace Manufacturing, Certification Reform Take Center Stage at First of Five Hearings on FAA Reauthorization

Congressman: ‘certification reform, improved grant and safety programs, rules of the road for drones and consumer protection are not back burner aviation issues – the next FAA reauthorization should be a long-term, comprehensive bill’

In a hearing of the House Subcommittee on Aviation titled “Building a 21st Century Infrastructure for America: State of American Aviation Manufacturing,” newly re-appointed Ranking Member Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02) today highlighted the need to reform aircraft certification as part of the forthcoming Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization.

Today’s hearing – which focused on the economic impacts certification has on U.S. aerospace manufacturers – was the first of five hearings focused on reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration. The agency’s authority will expire in September 2017.

WATCH: State of American Aviation Manufacturing: Larsen Opening Statement 

“According to the state of Washington, in 2014 the aerospace industry generated over $85 billion in economic activity throughout the state. More than 1,300 aerospace businesses support more than 260,000 jobs – companies ranging from Boeing to the many small businesses that are a critical part of the aviation supply chain. There is some discussion going on in Lynnwood, Washington, today at the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance conference on these very issues. Manufacturing and certification are critical to my home state, and the predictable and timely certification of aircraft and aircraft components is critical for domestic manufacturers to get their products to market. I look forward to hearing what challenges manufacturers face and what the Subcommittee and the FAA can do to make the FAA’s certification more consistent and efficient while ensuring the highest level of safety,” said Larsen.

Larsen asked Boeing Vice President of Engineering John Hamilton, who was a witness at today’s hearing, how the certification process can be expedited. “We deliver a third of our Boeing 737 airplanes to China…[expediting these deliveries] requires a strong relationship between the FAA and their counterparts overseas,” Hamilton said.

A second witness, Michael Thacker, Senior Vice President for Certification of Textron Aviation, suggested that the aerospace industry be empowered to certify more established and commonplace technologies that would better allow the FAA to focus on certifying newer technologies.

Larsen also made it clear that certification and other critical reforms should be included in the next FAA reauthorization bill. “Last year, the Committee had been moving forward to pass a long-term FAA reauthorization. Bipartisan compromise and significant industry input produced an entire certification reform title that would have brought long-overdue changes to the FAA certification process,” Larsen said. “Certification, improved grant and safety programs, rules of the road for drones and boosted consumer protection are not back burner aviation issues – they are front burner aviation issues. And the next FAA reauthorization should be a long-term bill, comprehensive bill and address the issues on today’s agenda.”

Larsen has pushed for a long-term FAA re-authorization and called for reforms to streamline the FAA certification process that will help U.S. manufacturers become more competitive and create jobs by saving time, making products safer and transporting them to market more quickly. Additionally, Larsen has led Democratic opposition to plans calling for privatization of the Federal Air Traffic Control system, consistently raising concerns about challenges and unanswered questions.