FAA Reauthorization Bill Heads to President’s Desk

Legislation Strengthens Airport Security and Airline Safety

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today U.S. Senator Murkowski voted for the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016, legislation that strengthens security at airports, improves safety measures for airlines, and makes travel easier for passengers. The bill also includes a provision Senator Murkowski has supported, the reauthorization of six Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) test sites for five years until 2022, which includes the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 89-4. 

The bill reauthorizes the FAA through September 2017 and maintains current funding levels for infrastructure, such as runways. 

“Aviation is a lifeline in Alaska, and is more often than not the only means of transportation in many parts of the state. This legislation is more critical than ever during the busy summer travel season, as Alaska sees scores of tourists flying to, from, and around the state,” said Murkowski. “As we continue to fight terrorism across the globe – especially after the tragedies in Brussels and Istanbul recently – this bill will provide much-needed security for American travelers.”

Bill Highlights:

Aviation Infrastructure Investments:

  • Authorizes the Airport Investment Program, which provides critical grant money for airport construction and enhancements. 
  • Extends the taxes and fees that fund airport improvements.

Rural Service:

  • Reauthorizes the Essential Air Service (EAS) Program to ensure that small communities in the United States, including many in Alaska, maintain commercial air service.

Aviation Safety & Protections:

  • Strengthens mental health screening for commercial pilots.
  • Requires training for flight attendants in recognizing and responding to potential victims of human trafficking.
  • Addresses growing cybersecurity threats facing aviation and air navigation systems.

Commonsense Reforms:

  • Allows certified general aviation pilots to fly if they meet the medical requirements needed to acquire a driver’s license.  

Aviation Security:

  • Authorizes training and screening equipment for overseas airports to bolster the security standards for flights headed to the United States from high risk airports.
  • Strengthens security for foreign airports with direct flights to the United States by requiring comprehensive security assessments.
  • In order to mitigate the insider threat to aviation security, the bill tightens the access controls and employees vetting standards for aviation workers with access to secure areas of airports.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS):

Addresses safety and privacy issues, boosts enforcement, and clarifies federal and local rules regarding drones while creating new opportunities for testing and promoting innovative uses of this technology, subject to FAA Approval.

Related Issues: Alaska Natives & Rural Alaska