Bipartisan Congressional Approval For Long-Term FAA Reauthorization


U.S. Congress negotiators from the House of Representatives and the Senate agreed this morning (April 29) on language of a long-term FAA reauthorization bill addressing potential safety breaches as well as consumer protections. The House voted in favor of a reauthorization bill in July 2023 that would have included raising the mandatory airline pilot retirement age to 67 from 65. But in February this year, the Senate Commerce Committee rejected that element of the proposed five-year, $105 billion FAA reauthorization measure. According to a Reuters report, the mandatory-retirement-age extension is not in the bill agreed to this morning by House and Senate negotiators. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill later this week.

Among the provisions that are still included in the 1,000-page document are measures prohibiting airlines from charging extra for families to sit together, a required five-year period for airlines’ vouchers and credits to remain valid and a mandate for 24-hour cockpit voice recorders. Not included, according to Reuters, were other “stricter consumer rules” proposed by the Biden administration.

While consumer concerns are prominent in the news about the agreement (it includes raising the maximum civil penalty for airline passengers’ consumer violations to $75,000 from $25,000), in large part, the reauthorization legislation addresses concerns over aviation safety following months of alarm over near-collisions and quality-control discrepancies, primarily focused on Boeing. The negotiator-approved version of the legislation addresses FAA staffing shortfalls in air traffic controllers (a need for 3,000 new controllers) as well as inspectors, engineers and technical specialists. The five-year time frame for the FAA reauthorization bill also includes five years’ funding for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

In a joint statement, Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell, D. Wash., joined the top Republican on the panel, Ted Cruz, House Transportation Committee Chair Sam Graves, R. Mo., and top Democratic member of the committee Rick Larsen, writing, “now more than ever, the FAA needs strong and decisive direction from Congress to ensure America’s aviation system maintains its gold standard.”

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Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.


  1. A 1,000 page document … it’s no darned wonder nothing gets done fast … 🙁 .
    Oh well … at least the lawyers are working.

    • For the hell of it, I just looked up the length of “War and Peace” … 1226 pages.

      The lawyers must be getting paid by the page ?? What bravo sierra!!

  2. Hopefully a few table scraps & crumbs still find their way into the small piston plane GA community!

    • Amen Nordic Dave! I am a GA Safety advocate and do not understand for the life of me why GA takes such a low priority in the FAA. They invest a fortune in the FAA Safety Team but allocate pennies to improve the website. Makes me crazy!

  3. 3000 new controllers? Is that 3000 more certified controllers than at present? Or is that to maintain current staffing with so many controllers leaving?

  4. The FAA shouldn’t be reauthorized until and unless there are some major changes to how they are doing business and the attitudes within the organization. Many of the ills in aviation today can be directly traced to FAA’s poor oversight.

  5. Gotta love lobbying from politicians. Santa Clara County have snuck in ‘favorable’ language that subverts them banning 100LL by saying if an airport has it in 2022, they can’t ban it. They stopped availability on Dec 31,2021.

    Under grant assurances (770) ‘‘(22) the airport owner or operator may not re21 strict or prohibit the sale or self-fueling of any 100 octane low lead aviation gasoline for purchase or use by operators of general aviation aircraft if such aviation gasoline was available at such airport at any time during calendar year 2022, until the earlier of—”

  6. I really wish the politicians would stop putting “consumer issues” in FAA funding bills. Seating families together and travel voucher expiration dates should come under the DOT and not the FAA.

  7. WASHINGTON — Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska slammed his hand on a table and yelled at a Democratic colleague Wednesday to voice his anger over a change to legislation that he said would harm his home state.

    Sullivan grew uncharacteristically upset during a public meeting of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, where he accused Democratic Chairman Tom Carper’s staff of killing a provision he had advocated for in the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill.

    “I’m getting tired of my state being singled out by this staff, Democrat staff, on everything,” Sullivan said.

    He said that he had pushed for legislative language that would allow Alaska more time to implement an EPA requirement to transition off of standard leaded aviation fuel. Sullivan wanted Alaska to be exempt from the fuel requirement through 2034, instead of the 2030 nationwide exemption.

    The FAA reauthorization, which is making its way through the Senate, has become a grab-bag of priorities for senators.

    “This goes to safety of my constituents,” Sullivan said, slamming his hand on the table. “And you guys jump in at the last minute, and I’m so goddamn sick of it. Anything that deals with Alaska, you feel it’s open season because the radical environmental groups want to shut my state down. It’s wrong.”
    Ben Dietderich, a spokesperson for Sullivan, said in a statement to NBC News that Alaskans rely on air travel in a state where more than 200 communities are not connected by road.

    Sullivan had secured the fuel provision “recognizing a state as big and reliant on older aircraft as Alaska could not feasibly implement this mandate in that timeframe,” Dietderich said.

    He said that “without any data supporting the move, the Democratic staff of Delaware Sen. Tom Carper, Chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, slashed Alaska’s exemption in half. Once again, doing the bidding of far-left environmental groups, national Democrats are targeting Alaska and endangering the lives of Alaskans. It is shameful.”