Thune Praises Senate Passage of Five-Year Federal Aviation Legislation with Transportation Security Reforms

“In creating new protections and enhancements for the flying public, this bill creates five years of stable policy direction for the aviation community.”

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today issued the following statement on the passage of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 (H.R. 302), a five-year authorization of the federal aviation programs and a three-year reauthorization of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Headed to the White House for President Donald Trump’s signature, the legislation will help modernize airport infrastructure, improve service for the flying public, enhance transportation safety and security, and boost aviation industry innovation.

“In creating new protections and enhancements for the flying public, this bill creates five years of stable policy direction for the aviation community,” Thune said. “Travelers, utilizing small and large airports, will benefit from investments in infrastructure, more efficient security screening, and the prompt return of fees for services they don’t receive. Innovators also get a needed boost from provisions enhancing the competitiveness of our aircraft manufacturers and the continued integration of unmanned aircraft into our airspace.”

Highlights of H.R. 302:

Modernizing airport infrastructure

  • Provides funding for airport development.
  • Increases flexibility to finance projects.
  • Requires TSA to make available, in airports and online, real-time information on security line waits.

Improving service for the flying public

  • Prohibits involuntary bumping of passengers who have already boarded.
  • Directs FAA to set minimum standards for airline seat sizes.
  • Requires private rooms for nursing mothers in large and medium airports.
  • Ensures airlines promptly return fees for services (seat assignments, early boarding, etc.) not received.
  • Establishes an aviation consumer advocate within the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Enhancing safety and security

  • Strengthens aviation training, reporting, tracking, and cybersecurity.
  • Provides new risk-mitigation authorities for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).
  • Authorizes more canine security teams and, to meet demand, expands ways to test and certify dogs.

Boosting innovation

  • Streamlines certifications for design and delivery of aircraft to boost competitiveness of aviation manufacturing. 
  • Furthers efforts to safely integrate unmanned aircraft into the airspace through traffic management system advancements and research.
  • Creates an Office of Spaceports to support licensing and promote infrastructure improvements.
  • Authorizes approval for civil supersonic aircraft that reduce sonic booms.

Disaster assistance

  • Provides $1.68 billion in supplemental appropriations for disaster relief in the wake of Hurricane Florence.
  • Reforms Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) programs to help communities better prepare for and respond to disasters of all types.

Additional resources:

Senate FAA bill section-by section summary (75 pages) available here.

Joint Senate/House highlights summary (5 pages) available here.

H.R. 302, FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, full bill text (1207 pages) available here.