The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 (H.R. 4), which will grant funding for the FAA until 2023. The legislation was introduced by chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa. and passed with a vote of 393-13. Although the original House bill did not include provisions for removing ATC from FAA control, a last-minute amendment added by Shuster on Tuesday called for making the organization that manages ATC part of the Transportation Department and forming a 13-member advisory board. The change met with significant industry resistance and the controversial section was removed from the amendment before the bill went to a vote.
Nearly 100 amendments were made to the bill before the final vote. The list includes one that directs the FAA to evaluate NextGen air traffic control technology and report the findings to Congress. Also included was an amendment requiring medical exams for commercial hot air balloon pilots, stemming from the 2016 crash of a hot air balloon that killed 16 people in Texas.
NATA, GAMA, and other aviation organizations have already issued statements praising the passage of H.R. 4. “This bill provides key provisions and language that improves safety, streamlines regulatory burdens, strengthens job creation, encourages competitiveness and innovation, and stimulates exports,” said GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce. It is being reported that the hope is to have the legislation to the Senate in May or June and long-term reauthorization in place by August.