On July 13, 2016, the Senate passed the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016 extending the FAA’s authorization though September 2017. The Senate’s vote follows the House’s successful passage of the bill on July 11, 2016, clearing the way for the President’s signature before the FAA’s existing authority expires on July 15, 2016. As noted below, the bill contains a number of provisions of particular interest to airports. We will publish an analysis of these provisions in an upcoming law alert. In the interim, please do not hesitate to contact any of our attorneys if you have questions about the FAA extension bill.
On July 7, 2016, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee announced a bipartisan agreement on an extension of the FAA’s authorization to September 30, 2017. Although the bill is a relatively short-term extension, it introduces a number of non-controversial reforms of particular interest to airports. Specifically, the bill would:
The bill also contains several UAS-related provisions of importance for airports:
This extension bill appears to be garnering broad support among both chambers of Congress, and will likely be agreed to by vote later this week or next. The FAA’s current authorization expires on July 15, 2016.
We will provide further details on these provision if the bill becomes law.
On April 19, 2016, the Senate passed H.R. 636, the vehicle for its version of the FAA Reauthorization Bill. The bill would reauthorize the FAA through September 30, 2017, and introduce a number of reforms of particular interest to airports:
We will provide further analysis of the bill’s provisions as the debate over reauthorization continues. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Shuster has yet to introduce his version of the FAA Reauthorization Bill on the House floor, but continues to advocate for the privatization of air traffic control services and other proposals that are not addressed by the Senate’s bill. There are accordingly many issues left to resolve as between the two proposals, and final passage of either chambers’ bill or a conference bill by the end of the current short-term extension (July 15, 2016) remains uncertain.
On April 6, 2016, the U.S. Senate cleared an important procedural step toward bringing the Commerce Committee’s FAA Reauthorization proposal to a vote on the Senate floor. Earlier in the week, the Committee released a substitute amendment incorporating the amendments adopted in its March 16 markup. The bill will now proceed to debate and potentially further amendment.
On March 21, 2016, the House passed the Senate-amended H.R. 4721, reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration through July 15, 2016. The bill will now be sent to the President for his signature.
The Senate is on recess until April 4, and the House will begin its recess on Thursday, through April 11. We will update this page as both chambers return and the debate over the FAA’s long-term reauthorization continues.
On March 17, 2016, the Senate passed an amended version of H.R. 4721 that would reauthorize the FAA through July 15, 2016. The Senate rejected the original provisions of the bill that would have separately extended aviation taxing authority through March 2017. The bill will now return to the House for a final vote. Because the Senate begins its recess next week and does not return until April, the House must pass H.R. 4721 as amended in order to keep the FAA operating past March 31, when its current authorization expires.
On March 16, 2016, the Senate Commerce Committee unanimously approved its version of the FAA Reauthorization Bill with fifty-nine amendments. Among the many amendments affecting airports are provisions that would:
On March 10, we issued a law alert regarding a provision in the Senate bill that would preempt state and local efforts to regulate the location of UAS flight, including the area surrounding an airport. This provision (Section 2142) was not modified in the bill approved by the Committee. Airport operators may wish to review our alert and contact their Senators if they have concerns about the provision.
Chairman Thune has indicated that he will seek to introduce the bill on the floor when the Senate returns from its recess in April. The status of Chairman Shuster’s bill reported out of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure remains unknown. Both sides agree, however, that a short-term extension is required. On March 14, the House passed an extension reauthorizing the FAA through July 15, which is expected to be taken up by the Senate this week.
On March 9, 2016, Chairman Thune and Ranking Member Nelson of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee released their proposal for an 18-month reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration. The draft Senate bill follows on the heels of Chairman Shuster of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s proposal, which has been largely overtaken by controversy surrounding the privatization of air traffic control services and other provisions.
As anticipated, Chairman Thune’s proposal does not propose to privatize air traffic control services, but introduces a number of significant reforms to FAA operations and programs. We will carefully analyze the draft bill over the coming days. In the interim, please refer to the Committee’s highlights or section-by-section summary.
The bill is scheduled for committee markup on Wednesday, March 16, 2016.
On Wednesday, February 3, 2016, Representative Bill Shuster, Chairman of House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, introduced his long awaited Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Bill, the Aviation, Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization Act (AIRRA). AIRRA would reauthorize the FAA for six years, through fiscal year 2022, and propose a number of reforms and changes that are sure to generate controversy and a great deal of legislative activity over the coming weeks and months.
Among the most anticipated provisions of AIRRA are those that propose to remove air traffic control services (including the existing staff of air traffic controllers and probably most of the 35,000 Air Traffic Organization employees) from the FAA, and move them to a new, federally-chartered non-profit corporation: the “ATC Corporation.” The proposal is complex and will be heavily scrutinized by industry-stakeholders as the bill heads into markup, scheduled for February 11, 2016. Several key features are particularly important:
Other significant provisions reforms proposed by AIRRA include:
Many industry groups and members of Congress have lined up in support or opposition to the key features of AIRRA, and the next few weeks (and, perhaps, months) are sure to bring additional legislative developments and proposals. The bill is scheduled for hearing and markup by the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on February 10 and 11, respectively. FAA’s current authorization expires on March 31, 2016. A short-term patch may be necessary—and appears likely—since it is doubtful that both the House and Senate can complete action by that deadline.
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has compiled its own useful summary of AIRRA’s provisions. This summary is not intended to be exhaustive or to provide legal advice. Firm clients who are interested in specific provisions or have questions about how the proposal would apply to their airport are encouraged to contact the Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell attorney with whom they work.