DeFazio Announces House Passage of Bipartisan, Long-Term FAA Reauthorization
Today, the United States House of Representatives passed bipartisan legislation that will enhance aviation safety, strengthen consumer protections, and boost the U.S. and Oregon’s economy and aviation workforce. The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 (H.R. 302) is a five-year reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). As the top Democrat on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR) was a lead Democratic negotiator of this bipartisan, long-term legislation.
“The FAA reauthorization legislation passed today includes critical provisions, many of which I authored, that will improve aviation safety and the air travel experience for more than 900 million passengers who fly in the United States each year. The bill strengthens consumer protections: It directs the FAA to address shrinking airplane seat sizes and legroom, it prohibits airlines from involuntarily removing passengers from flights after they’ve cleared the boarding gate, and it requires airlines to communicate better with customers during mass flight cancellations and groundings. I fought for critical safety measures that will ensure flight attendants receive 10 hours of rest between duty periods, and require the FAA to review airliner evacuations to ensure that tightly packed planes can be evacuated in under 90 seconds. While this legislation isn’t perfect, it is the product of a strong bipartisan effort that will improve and advance the U.S. aviation system for years to come,” said DeFazio.
The FAA Reauthorization Act also includes a provision DeFazio authored that provides a pathway to ensuring safe and secure drone operations and, ultimately, the deployment of new technologies that will unlock drones’ potential. The bill also includes new criminal penalties for people who knowingly or recklessly fly drones over active wildfires, endangering our first responders and stopping efforts to fight these wildfires.
DeFazio also applauded passage of the Disaster Recovery Reform Act (DRRA), as part of H.R. 302. The DRRA will help communities better prepare for, respond to, recover from, and mitigate against disasters. It includes a provision authored by DeFazio that would clarify that hazard mitigation funds may be used to purchase components of an earthquake early warning system off the Pacific Northwest coast. It also includes language authorizing States to use hazard mitigation assistance to prevent wildfires on State and private lands.
“I am also pleased that this legislation includes the Disaster Recovery Reform Act, which includes my provisions to help install an earthquake early-warning system off the Oregon coast, and give the state of Oregon flexibility to use Federal disaster funds to prevent catastrophic wildfires. This legislation will help Oregon build more resilient communities that can withstand major disasters in the future,” said DeFazio.
BACKGROUND ON H.R. 302
Enhances Aviation Safety
- Mandates flight attendants receive a minimum of 10 hours of rest between duty periods;
- Requires Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) review of cabin evacuation assumptions to ensure safe evacuation in the event of an emergency;
- Requires installation of secondary cockpit barriers on each newly manufactured aircraft;
- Improves the safety of hot air balloon, helicopter, and general aviation operations; and
- Requires numerous studies, reviews, and reports aimed at enhancing aviation safety, including on FAA’s enforcement and oversight policies, pilot rest and duty rules, general aviation safety, airline engine safety, and accident and incident reporting.
Strengthens Consumer Protections
- Directs FAA to set minimum dimensions for passenger seats, including pitch and width;
- Establishes a new "Aviation Consumer Advocate" position at the Department of Transportation (DOT) to help resolve consumer complaints;
- Prohibits the involuntary bumping of passengers from flights after their boarding passes have been collected or scanned;
- Prohibits cell phone calls and the use of e-cigarettes during flights;
- Prohibits airlines from denying passengers the ability to check baby strollers at the departure gate unless there are safety or security issues;
- Requires all medium and large U.S. airports to have private rooms for nursing mothers and baby changing tables in at least one restroom in each passenger terminal;
- Creates a task force on eliminating sexual misconduct on commercial aircraft; and
- Addresses issues faced by passengers with disabilities, including by requiring DOT to develop an "Airline Passengers with Disabilities Bill of Rights" and creates a civil penalty for damage to passengers' wheelchairs and mobility aids.
Strengthens the U.S. Economy & Aviation Workforce
- Reforms the FAA aircraft certification processes to ensure U.S. manufacturers can get products to market faster and compete globally;
- Creates two new grant programs to support pilot education and the recruitment of aviation maintenance workers; and
- Establishes industry working groups to develop recommendations and strategies to grow the U.S. aviation workforce, including by encouraging youth and women to pursue aviation careers.
Provides Long-Term Airport Funding & Addresses Noise Issues
- Provides 5 years of stable and predictable funding for grants for U.S. airport development;
- Requires several studies and reviews of airport and aircraft noise levels and their effects on communities; and
- Creates an ombudsman in each FAA region to work on aircraft noise and pollution issues.
Encourages Innovation In Aviation
- Authorizes FAA to fully regulate hobby and recreational unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in order to ensure the safety and security of U.S. airspace; and
- Advances the safe and efficient integration of UAS into U.S. airspace through the development and testing of new UAS technologies and directing the FAA to move forward with authorization of advanced UAS operations (e.g., package delivery).
Improves Disaster Recovery
H.R. 302 also includes the Disaster Recovery Reform Act (DRRA), which:
- Establishes a stable funding stream to invest in pre-disaster mitigation in a stronger, more resilient manner before disaster strikes, by depositing into a national fund for State, local, and Indian tribal government projects an amount equal to 6 percent of the costs of each disaster;
- Encourages resilient rebuilding as well as the enforcement and implementation of stronger building codes;
- Authorizes mitigation funding after wildfires on State, local, and private lands; and
- Clarifies eligibility of earthquake early warning system components for mitigation funds.