House Votes Against Additional Flights in FAA Reauthorization Bill
In a close vote of 205-229, the House of Representatives decided against adding more flights to a major aviation policy bill. The bill, which aims to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), is yet to be voted on in the Senate, leaving a possibility for the flights to be included during final negotiations.
The House is expected to pass the underlying bill on Thursday, as the FAA’s current authority is set to expire on September 30. This gives Congress a tight deadline to take action and prevent any disruptions in the nation’s air transportation system.
One significant development in the bill was a bipartisan effort to maintain the requirement of commercial airline pilots completing at least 1,500 hours of flight time. The measure succeeded with a vote of 243-191, ensuring that pilot training remains rigorous and comprehensive.
However, there was debate over a provision in the bill that would have allowed 150 additional hours of simulator time to count towards the 1,500-hour requirement. Regional airlines advocated for this change, citing workforce issues. Nevertheless, this amendment was struck down, with concerns raised by the families of those lost in the tragic Colgan Air Flight 3407 crash. Members of Congress representing the affected area also joined forces to preserve the existing pilot training rules.
Not only has the pilot training issue stirred controversy in the House, but it has also caused delays in the Senate’s progress on its FAA bill. Democrats in the Senate have opposed proposed changes, while some Republicans and one Independent senator are advocating for alternative forms of pilot training.
Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s support of the alternative provisions presents an obstacle, as her backing, along with all Republicans on the committee, would provide enough votes to pass the amendment against the wishes of the committee’s leadership.
As the FAA faces an imminent expiration of its authority, both the House and Senate must work swiftly to find common ground and ensure the reauthorization of this crucial agency. The fate of additional flights and the pilot training rules hang in the balance, and all eyes are now on Congress to find a resolution.
This article includes reporting contributions from Irie Sentner.