Senate Passes FAA Funding Extension with Safety Provisions

July 30, 2010

Hutchison PortraitWASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Senate today passed a funding extension for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that contained several key safety provisions to make air travel safer. These safety provisions were negotiated by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Ranking Member on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Senator Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and others.  The previous extension was set to expire on August 1, 2010.  The new extension will expire at the end of the fiscal year on September 30, 2010.

“While I am pleased to see the approval of these strong aviation safety provisions, I am disappointed that the House and Senate have not yet agreed on a full comprehensive reauthorization of the FAA,” said Senator Hutchison.  “The safety provisions included in this bill represent a strong commitment to improving aviation safety in our country.  The legislation includes recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board to boost pilot training skills, and would direct the FAA to address pilot fatigue.  It is vital that Congress pass a full FAA reauthorization bill in the coming months, instead of another extension. This would allow the agency to implement its Next Generation air traffic control system which will increase efficiency and expand capacity in our nation’s airways, while providing critical safety enhancements that are long overdue.”

Hutchison also expressed gratitude and appreciation to the ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ for their continued support and diligence in passing the much needed safety measures.  “Their constant presence and support during the FAA Reauthorization process has inspired us all,” Senator Hutchison said.

The Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010 specifically:

  • Requires the Secretary of the Department of Transportation (DOT) to report annually on the status of the agency’s adoption of National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendations, including an explanation for any deadline that has not been met;
  • Requires the FAA to create and maintain a comprehensive pilot record database for air carriers to track and review pilot work histories;
  • Requires the DOT Inspector General (IG) to conduct a review of aviation safety inspectors and operational research analysts that includes an assessment of the FAA’s oversight of commercial air carriers, the level of aviation inspector and operational research analyst staffing and experience, and the surveillance responsibilities of aviation safety inspectors;
  • Requires FAA rulemakings to ensure commercial air carriers provide pilots with a) stall, upset recognition, and recovery training, and b) remedial training.  This provision also requires the FAA to convene a multidisciplinary panel to study and report on methods to improve pilots’ familiarity with stick pusher systems, icing conditions, and microburst and wind shear events;
  • Requires any ticket agent, air carrier, or other person selling tickets for air transportation to disclose the actual air carrier providing the air transportation;
  • Requires the FAA to perform random, unannounced, onsite inspections of regional air carriers not less than once each year;
  • Requires the Administrator to issue regulations on flight time and rest requirements based on the latest scientific evidence to address pilot fatigue.  The provision also requires the National Academy of Sciences to study the effect of commuting on pilot fatigue, and requires the Administrator to update regulations based on the study’s findings if appropriate; and
  • Requires the FAA to complete a rulemaking to revise commercial pilot requirements and mandates all commercial pilots to have a minimum of 1,500 hours of flight experience (up from 250 hours).


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