Rockefeller Hails Passage of Four-Year FAA Reauthorization

Bill Creates Jobs, Protects Workers, and Improves Air Service and Safety for Passengers

February 6, 2012

Chairman RockefellerWASHINGTON, D.C.—Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV issued the following statement today after the Senate passed a four-year FAA reauthorization bill that will improve flight safety, modernize the U.S. aviation system, and create thousands of American jobs.  The bill now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

“This bill is a huge win for America’s economy, for passenger safety, and for the aviation industry,” Rockefeller said.  “From the start, our goal was preserving the safest, most efficient, and modern aviation system in the world.  And we know a healthy and growing aviation industry is fundamentally important for the economic future of our country.  I’m proud that Congress has passed comprehensive, bipartisan legislation that will support jobs and consumers.”

Chairman Rockefeller spoke on the Senate Floor earlier today about this FAA reauthorization bill and its benefits for consumers and the U.S. aviation system.


Funding Commitments

The FAA reauthorization makes a number of funding commitments to foster stability and growth in the nation’s aviation system. The bill will:

  • Authorize approximately $15.9 billion annually through the end of FY 2015;
  • Provide funding required for the FAA to modernize the air traffic control system; and
  • Mandate the development of precision navigation procedures at the nation’s largest 35 airports by 2015 that will help significantly reduce congestion, delay, fuel consumption, and air carrier costs.

Improving Airline Safety

Safety has been a top priority in the negotiating process. The FAA reauthorization will:

  • Require better safety oversight of foreign repair stations;
  • Improve safety for helicopter emergency medical service operations;
  • Strengthen the inspection of airline operations; and
  • Initiate better processes for tracking and investigating operational errors. 

Modernizing America’s Aviation System

The FAA reauthorization includes several provisions to modernize the nation’s air transportation system, and to ensure that the FAA implements the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) in a timely and effective manner.  The bill will:

  • Establish clear deadlines for the adoption of existing NextGen navigation and surveillance technology;
  • Create an “Air Traffic Control Modernization Oversight Board” to provide better oversight of FAA’s modernization programs; and
  • Mandate development of precision navigational procedures at the nation’s top 35 airports by 2015 that will help significantly reduce congestion, delay, fuel consumption, and air carrier costs.

Improving Access to Air Service

Key provisions in the bill have been included to strengthen the federal government’s commitment to small community air service.  The bill will:

  • Preserve the Essential Air Service program, which provides subsidized service to rural airports across the country that otherwise would not receive any scheduled air service.  

Flight Operations at National Airport

The bill allows for more long-distance flights in and out of National Airport by:

  • Authorizing a total of 8 additional round-trip flights from National Airport to beyond-perimeter locations.

Empowering Aviation Industry Workers

The bill rejects the House effort to repeal the National Mediation Board (NMB) rule that ensures that only those votes cast in a union election are counted as well as other anti-labor efforts.  The bill will:

  • Require the NMB to hold a public hearing when they engage in an informal rulemaking, which codifies the past practice of the agency; and
  • Modify the NMB election procedures so that when there are multiple unions seeking to represent workers the two top vote-getters appear on the ballot in a runoff election.