Commerce Leaders Introduce FAA Reauthorization Bill

Committee will convene March 16 to consider and vote on the proposal

March 9, 2016

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who respectively serve as the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today announced the introduction of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2016. Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), the chair and ranking member of the Aviation Operations, Safety, & Security Subcommittee, are original co-sponsors on the legislation which the full committee will formally consider at a 10:00 a.m. business meeting on Wednesday, March 16.

“This bill benefits Americans who fly and even those who don’t. The U.S. Senate has an opportunity to make our skies safer, promote responsible drone usage, make economically significant aerospace manufacturing reforms, and adopt beneficial new protections for the flying public,” said Thune. “I appreciate the efforts of Sen. Nelson in reaching agreement to advance this bill and I look forward to working with Chairman Bill Shuster in the House of Representatives to find common ground with his innovative proposal.”

“This is a good starting place for both parties to come together and hopefully get something passed,” said Nelson. “I’m pleased we were able to include recommendations from a report I unveiled last year that took airlines to task for not adequately disclosing fees charged to passengers.  These include requiring airlines to refund fees for delayed bags and providing clearer fee disclosures, among others.”

The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2016 reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration and related programs through the end of fiscal year 2017 (September 30, 2017). The legislation updates the safety and privacy framework to further drone development, offers reforms to help our aerospace industry better compete in a global economy, improves aviation safety, and expands consumer protections for airline passengers.

Key provisions in the bill:

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or Drones – Addresses safety and privacy issues, boosts enforcement, and clarifies federal and local roles regarding drones while creating new opportunities for testing and promoting innovative uses of this technology, subject to FAA approval.

Aircraft Certification Reforms – Helps U.S. aerospace manufacturing by improving the FAA’s processes for certifying aircraft designs and modifications, as well as ensuring the benefits of such certification processes for manufacturers competing in global markets.

Consumer Protection & Aviation Access – Includes new consumer protections for the flying public:
- Truth in Weather Delays - Directs the Department of Transportation to review how airlines provide information on decisions to delay or cancel flights that may be fully or only partially due to weather related causes.
- Notice to Families with Children - Requires airlines to provide families with information about the availability of seats together at the time of booking.
- Disclosure of Fees - Creates a standard method for airlines to disclose airlines’ ancillary fees (baggage, seat selection).
- Refunds for Delayed Baggage - Requires airlines to return baggage fees when items are lost or delayed.
- Automatic Refunds - Requires airlines to automatically return fees for services purchased but not received (seat assignments, early boarding, carry-on bags).

Airline Safety Improvements – Includes new requirements on the bulk transfer of lithium batteries, mental health screening and records retention for commercial pilots, increasing awareness of human trafficking for airline personnel, and improving communicable disease preparedness.

General Aviation Safety & Protections – Addresses concerns of the general aviation community by including the bipartisan Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2, which reforms the Third Class Medical Certificate process for non-commercial pilots. Also includes new requirements for small tower markings.

Click here for more highlights of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2016.

Click here for a detailed section-by-section summary.

Click here for the full text of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2016 as introduced.