Larsen Remarks on FAA Reauthorization Act

Apr 26, 2018 Issues: Transportation

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02) spoke on the House Floor today in support of H.R. 4, the FAA Reauthorization Act. Below is a video and transcript of his remarks:

View remarks here.

“Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of H.R. 4, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018. 

“I am pleased that Congress is here today to consider a long-term bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“This moment has been a long time in coming.

“Congress has not enacted a long-term FAA reauthorization bill since 2012, and it’s currently running on the fifth FAA extension since that time.

“We are here to consider a comprehensive piece of legislation and a bipartisan piece of legislation that provides long-term and predictable funding for the FAA, improves aviation safety, addresses workforce needs and advances vital research in the field. 

“Whether large or small, airports across the United States play an important role in communities by connecting people, goods, services and creating jobs.

“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 EAA fly-in brings in people from across the country.

“Bellingham International Airport in Northwest Washington is a developing airport which requires further investments in terminal and operations infrastructure to help keep pace with passenger demands.

“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.

“The bill reflects Congress’ consensus to reform FAA’s aircraft certification processes, improve aviation safety, provide additional protections for U.S. passengers and help to better prepare the aviation workforce and further the safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace.

“One of the most important things this bill does is to make FAA’s certification process more streamlined, consistent and efficient, while maintaining the highest level of safety.

“The U.S. aviation industry is an economic powerhouse. It is particularly important to my home state of Washington.

“In Washington state, general aviation contributes an estimated $3.6 billion to the economy and more than 30,000 jobs a year.

“Without question, predictable and timely certification of aircraft and aircraft components is critical for domestic manufacturers to get their products to market. 

“These reforms are desperately needed to allow U.S. aviation manufacturers, like constituents in Everett as well as smaller contractors, to compete globally.

“This bill also ensures that FAA’s product certification remains the “gold standard” abroad so that U.S. manufacturers remain competitive. 

“As passenger growth continues, Congress must ensure airports have the right tools in place to safely accommodate this new demand.

“The bill makes a host of improvements to make our 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 to make investments in their critical infrastructure; and
  • Ensuring flight attendants have sufficient rest between duty periods.

“It also includes numerous provisions that enhance the air travel experience for the more than 900 million passengers who fly each year, including:

  • a prohibition on airlines involuntarily bumping passengers after they have boarded;
  • a prohibition on the use of cell phones for voice communications during flight; and
  • a requirement for airlines to create a one-page document outlining the rights of passengers, which will bring much-needed transparency to the industry.

“One of my top priorities is to ensure working families in the Pacific Northwest get a better deal, which means expanding opportunities, creating more jobs and making sure the next generation of workers have the tools necessary to succeed in the workforce.

“In this bipartisan bill that my colleagues and I have agreed to will protect and create American jobs through airport construction and aerospace manufacturing, ultimately boosting the nation’s economy.

“As an example, the Port of Skagit is focused on expanding the Skagit Regional Airport, and is working to build a new hanger and longer taxiing runways. And these improvements are not only important for safety, they also create more well-paying jobs in construction.

“Furthermore, the Career Connect Washington initiative aims to connect more than 100,000 students over the next five years with career-focused learning opportunities, building a bridge from school into high-demand and good paying jobs.

“Across my district, nearly 900 young adults participating in this initiative have connected to apprenticeships, job shadows and other structured work based activity.

“This bill builds on these efforts to better prepare students for the aviation workforce by:

  • Encouraging schools, industry and other stakeholders address the skills-gap in the aviation maintenance field; and
  • Requiring a GAO study of best practices to incentivize, recruit and retain new aviation workers

“I am pleased that the bill includes my proposal to create a Youth Access to American Jobs in Aviation Task Force.

“This task force will work with aviation trade schools and community colleges, airline carriers and industry, labor unions and other relevant stakeholders to develop recommendations to encourage high school students to enroll in aviation manufacturing, maintenance and engineering apprenticeships. 

“And finally, this legislation 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 current 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.

“This bill enacts a multi-year reauthorization, Mr. Chairman, of aviation taxes and FAA expenditure authority that provide the stable, predictable funding needed to carry out its safety mission and ensure the FAA remains the world leader in aviation research and development.

“While these are all positive areas to address, I understand that some amendments will come today on slot exemptions and slot swaps and those have been made in order that would have regional consequences.

“I oppose these efforts and believe it would be better to have a more substantive discussion to address these issues in Committee.

“Mr. Chairman, We have the biggest, most complex and busiest aviation system in the world.

“We are years past due in enacting a long-term FAA reauthorization that will allow the United States to remain the gold standard in aviation.

“I am pleased to cosponsor this bill. 

“I reserve the balance of my time.”