In the culmination of 5 months of work, last Wednesday the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed H.R. 3935, the Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act, a bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and aviation safety and infrastructure programs for the next five years. The Committee met nearly all day for two days and considered over 150 amendments, but at the end the bill passed by a unanimous 63-0 vote. The bill ensures the U.S. remains a world leader in aviation safety and innovation by:
- Restructuring the FAA to improve efficiency;
- Strengthening America’s general aviation community;
- Encouraging growth in the aviation workforce;
- Making smart and targeted investments in airport infrastructure across the country;
- Fostering the development and safe, efficient integration of aviation innovations into the airspace; and
- Improving the aviation experience for the traveling public.
Several of my priorities are included in the bill. One of my priorities was to force the FAA to complete actions Congress directed in the last reauthorization bill – producing rules for beyond visual line of sight operations and particularly drone operations. The FAA estimates that by 2024, about 2.3 million Unmanned Arial Systems (UAS), including 1.5 million recreational drones and about 800,000 commercial UAS will be registered to fly in the United States. Current regulations are outdated and must be updated for new and emerging technology.
With one of the country’s busiest airports adjacent to my district – Orlando International Airport –improving programs that support airports, including environmental streamlining were another one of my priorities that is in the bill. Given the expected passenger growth, program flexibility is important to equip airports to fund a broader array of projects to meet present and future service needs.
U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster represents The Villages in the U.S. House of Representatives.