Reps. Carbajal Joins Bipartisan Majority to Advance Bill to Improve Aviation Safety, Support Consumer Protections for Air Travelers

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Advances reauthorization of the FAA programs with Carbajal amendments to help servicemember mechanics transition to civilian work, improve communication with space launch industry at Vandenburg

Today, Congressman Salud Carbajal (CA-24), a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, joined a bipartisan majority in advancing their reauthorization of federal aviation programs with key improvements for aviation safety and consumer protections for America’s air travelers.

Many of the measures included in the legislation, which reauthorizes Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) programs and other aviation safety and infrastructure programs for the next five years, are designed to protect the safety of the flying public in the face of a record return to air travel after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While the headlines out of Washington may suggest that extremists in Congress have extinguished all opportunities for bipartisan cooperation, my colleagues and I on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee are proving that is a false narrative with the passage of a good faith compromise to protect the flying public and ensure that our skies remain the safest in the world,” said Congressman Carbajal. “With a record year of air travel already upon us, we worked to ensure that the United States maintains its safety standards on runways and in the skies, that we have the personnel needed to meet the air travel needs of the next half decade, and that we are fostering innovation in our skies and beyond. While this bill didn’t have everything I’d hoped for, I will continue to work with my colleagues to perfect this bill as it makes its way through the House and when it’s combined with our Senate colleague’s draft in the coming months on its way to becoming law.”

The Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act:

  • Prevents runway incursions by expanding ground surveillance and detection equipment at large and medium hub airports to better inform air traffic controllers of potential danger
  • Directs FAA to hire more air traffic controllers and directs the Transportation Research Board to prepare for future air traffic controller workforce needs
  • Directs the Department of Transportation (DOT) to require airlines to develop policies addressing reimbursement for passengers for hotel and meal costs when a flight is canceled or significantly delayed
  • Requires airlines to establish policies on allowing passengers to sit next to their young child if adjacent seats are available
  • Triples authorized funding for the FAA’s workforce program to strengthen the talent pipeline of pilots, aviation maintenance technical workers, and aviation manufacturing workers
  • Reviews passenger air carriers’ emergency medical kits to ensure they include overdose reversal medications, Epi-pens, updated defibrillators and more, and reassess evacuation standards for commercial planes
  • Directs the FAA to coordinate with the U.S. Forest Service to develop a plan to use drones for wildfire detection, mitigation and suppression efforts, and adds an FAA liaison to the National Interagency Fire Center

The legislation advanced by the committee today included multiple priorities pushed by Rep. Carbajal:

  • The committee included language sought by Carbajal to require a study assessing the impact of nighttime airport noise and assess to efficacy of the current ways that airport noise is evaluated at airports like Santa Barbara and other regional airports.
  • Rep. Carbajal successfully lobbied to increase funding set aside for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) to $4 billion per year for the next five years and expand the eligible uses of this funding to allow airports to support use of alternative fuels (like hydrogen), fund environment resiliency projects, and for lowering airport noise.
    • Carbajal and the committee also included language to require AIP to fund at least $150 million per year in grants to support airport noise or environmental projects.
  • The committee added language proposed by Rep. Carbajal through a bipartisan amendment that helps streamline the certification of military maintenance technicians for civilian work to support a strong workforce pipeline in our aviation industry.
  • The committee also included a bipartisan Carbajal-led amendment designed to ensure that the FAA and the commercial space sector, operating out of launch sites like Vandenberg Space Force Base on the Central Coast, have the support needed to improve data-sharing capabilities to promote safety of both space and aviation operations.
    • The bipartisan amendment provides $50 million over the next five years to ensure the FAA has the resources and direction it requires to improve real-time data sharing of space launches and reentries with air traffic controllers in the field.
  • The legislation advanced by the committee today also creates a pilot grant program backed by Rep. Carbajal to help operators of space launch and re-entry sites, like Vandenberg Space Force Base, cover the costs of maintaining and repairing launch infrastructure and facilities.

The reauthorization of Federal Aviation Administration programs is on Congress’ agenda to complete before the existing authorization expires on September 30.

The U.S. Senate is also beginning consideration of its own version of the legislation this week.

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