Young Committed to Fighting for Alaskan Aviation Interests in Future FAA Negotiations
Washington, D.C. – Months after defending Alaskan aviation interests from major structural changes in a proposed overhaul of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), this week Alaska Congressman Young supported the passage of bipartisan, bicameral legislation to extend the FAA’s existing authority for 14 months and authorize numerous commonsense reforms and improvements, including a major change to the Third Class Medical Certification process for General Aviation Pilots. That legislation, the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016, has been sent to the President’s desk following passage in the Senate today.
“For more than a year, Congress has worked to make long-term updates and reforms to the FAA,” said Congressman Don Young. “Although this extension represents only a temporary solution, it gave us an opportunity to make several time-sensitive reforms to aviation security, while including several victories for Alaska and our unique aviation needs. Not only does this legislation make it easier for Alaska’s more than 8,000 pilots to maintain their medical certification, it pushes back against previous attempts to cut programs that support some of Alaska’s most remote and rural communities.”
The stop-gap measure, which was negotiated between the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and Senate Commerce Committee, continues Congress’ effort to provide a long-term reauthorization to the agency entrusted with protecting our skies, airline passengers and aviation systems.
“As a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I have worked tirelessly with my colleagues to craft a multi-year bill that included a wide range of reforms and improvements to how aviation is run in this country,” said Congressman Don Young. “As the House and Senate work to resolve its differences on the future of aviation, I will continue to fight to ensure Alaska’s aviation interests and priorities are protected. With more than 80% of our communities off the road system, more than 700 airports and airstrips, and more pilots (8,000 +) and aircraft (10,000+) per capita, Alaska uniquely relies on aviation of all sizes and types to transport people and vital supplies across our state. As Alaska’s sole voice in the House, I will continue to leverage my knowledge of our aviation systems and seniority on the Committee to educate my colleagues on the unique challenges we face when flying in the Last Frontier.”
Provisions of Alaskan Interest:
Essential Air Service
- The bill maintains Essential Air Service funding at $175 million, $25 million above the President’s request, despite previous proposals to eliminate its dedicated appropriations and end its authorization.
Collegiate Training Initiative (CTI) graduates
- The bill helps CTI graduates by exempting them from a controversial Biographical Questionnaire, while ensuring qualified veterans and CTI graduates account for approximately half of Air Traffic Controller candidates admitted to the FAA Training Academy.
- The University of Alaska Anchorage is the proud home to one of the nation’s 36 CTI schools.
Third-Class Medical Certification Process for GA pilots
- The bill streamlines the Third-Class Medical Certification Process for GA pilots by allowing almost 100,000 additional recreational pilots to fly aircraft without a medical certificate, as long as they have a driver’s license, have held a valid FAA medical certificate in the last 10 years, and agree to self-assessments.
Air Service to Rural Communities
- This bill establishes a Department of Transportation working group to improve air service to rural communities.
- The working group will focus on a variety of study areas, including how to expand rural pilot training initiatives.
Provisions of National Interest:
Commercial air travel improvements
- Directs airlines to reimburse baggage fees for checked baggage lost or unreasonably delayed
- Prescribes various improvements to air travel with individuals with disabilities including new training and best practices for airports
- Streamlines process for interagency cooperation and deployment of drones during disaster responses
- Establishes process for finding and mitigating unsafe operation of drones near airports and other critical infrastructure
- Strengthens mental health screening for pilots, a direct response to the 2015 Germanwings Flight 9525 tragedy
- Increases the number of canine patrol units patrolling unsecure areas in our nation’s airports
- Works to decrease wait times by growing the TSA’s PreCheck program
- Improves and increases airport worker vetting requirements
Click here for more information on Congressman Young’s efforts to protect Alaska’s aviation interests.