Amendments Slow Reauthorization Bill Progress


Senators have started piling amendments on the FAA reauthorization bill, threatening to derail its passage by the May 10 deadline when the current funding extension runs out. The list includes a measure to compensate victims of nuclear tests in the 1950s and 1960s and a move to compel tech companies to protect children from online threats. But the most contentious amendment is a move to strip the bill of a provision to add five more long-haul slots to Reagan National Airport, which is seen as an effort by a few legislators to get more direct flights to their home constituencies.

The slot removal amendment is being championed by D.C.-area senators who say the airport is designed to serve short-haul service and the airport can’t handle more traffic. Flights to and from DCA are restricted to a 1,250-mile perimeter. “We understand the desire of senators to shorten their commutes home, but this proposal would benefit few while impacting many, first and foremost in safety but also in delays and in reducing the economic competitiveness of smaller destinations within the perimeter,” the senators from Maryland and Virginia said in a recent letter to their fellow senators.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


  1. Hard to have any sympathy either way on the slot perimeter rule since GA is severely restricted from operating there. This amendment just shows how much Senators and Congress persons want this airport open for their personal use, not for any convenience of civilian passengers. I would not shed any tears if the Secret Service finally closed DCA down.

  2. I used to enjoy flying the River Visual to 19 in the Mad Dog. Very scenic and reminescent of a carrier approach out of the turn to final.

    • Yep. Fun. Like a couple of approaches to LGA. Very few opportunities to have fun flying airliners.

      • My trips to LGA were never fun, always on the edge of my seat (2 NMACs in a 2 year period)! DCA however was always enjoyable, if busy!

  3. Shows how dysfunctional Congress really is. What has nuclear victims got to do with DCA?

  4. Don’t even bother to go to the “What does that have to do with the xxx authorization bill?” question; that ship sailed years ago. Not all of the contents of a piece of legislation have been relevant to its titular purpose for decades; it’s merely a vehicle to which lawmakers attach barnacles.

    The bigger and more relevant question is “What do we do with DCA?” The Washington metro area has become so dense that National has been over capacity for years, and the FRZ certainly didn’t help, except to kick all us gnats out of “their” airspace.

    Now that they finally extended the Metro out to IAD, I’d be willing to let DCA go private, as long as it was funded solely by its real stakeholders and beneficiaries: the Pentagon, Congress, lobbyists, and all the other swamp-critters. Hey, they get their own private dining rooms, gyms, dry-cleaning, concierge service, and, for those who live in their offices, lodging. Let them shoulder the actual cost to have such a handy resource nearby. I sure as hell can’t use it.

    Side note: I can’t wait to watch the news next weekend about how the DC 911 system was cratered by the flood of “OMG! There are little planes flying right over the Capitol! They could be carrying bombs! …” calls.

    • Given that almost 75% of over 2,200 pilots (or at least aviation interested) respondents in the current pole here thought that GA is perceived as “A playground for the rich,” I don’t see how the upcoming gaggle of airplanes that’re gonna fly over the Capitol will do anything good for us. I agree … nothing good will come of it other than providing photographic fodder for the AOPA and providing fun for a few pilots.

  5. Or the Canarsie approach to 13L/R at JFK when the weather is down to minimums and the rain blowing sideways. But the thrill of thrills was the old “Kai Tak Heart Attack”…the Checkerboard approach to Runway 13 at Hong Kong’s now-closed Kai Tak Airport. Talk about heart in your throat. The first time I flew that one was into an approaching typhoon…if you were the least bit timid about flying down the hill at 200′ AGL peering into apartment kitchen windows you didn’t make it.