This bill would reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and reform federal disaster programs under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). A detailed breakdown of each section’s key provisions can be found below.
The Airport Investment Program (AIP) would issue $3.35 billion in annual grants to public use airports of all sizes for planning and development purposes in each fiscal year through 2023.
Restrictions on the use of Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) funds by airports would be lifted to let them more effectively finance projects, while the PFC application process would be streamlined.
The Federal Contract Tower Program would be reformed and the FAA’s cost-benefit analysis for current contract towers would be updated. A reme air traffic control tower pilot program would be established to deploy new advanced technologies and lower costs of air traffic control services.
The Dept. of Transportation (DOT) would be required to establish an Office of Spaceports to provide guidance, support licensing activities for spaceports, and promote infrastructure improvements.
The FAA’s certification process would be streamlined to increase the competitiveness of U.S. companies to compete globally and get their products to market on time. Workforce training and development for FAA inspectors and engineers would be enhanced.
The FAA would be authorized to certify new civil supersonic aircraft that reduce sonic booms.
Air Travel Reforms
The FAA would be required to establish minimum requirements for legroom, seat width, and length for passenger seats in commercial flights.
The involuntary bumping of passengers who’ve already boarded a plane would be prohibited, and regulations about the compensation of bumped passengers would have to be clarified.
It would be unlawful for any person to place a live animal in an overhead storage compartment of a commercial aircraft subject to a civil penalty.
The FAA would be required to consider revising rules to take steps to ensure pets aren’t wrongfully claimed as service animals by requiring photo identification or other documentation like health or vaccination records for service animals or documents from a physician about the necessity of a service animal.
The DOT would be required to review airline policies for traveling during pregnancy and consideration for granting early boarding to pregnant travelers. Private, sanitary rooms would be required in all large and medium commercial airport terminals for nursing mothers.
The use of cell phones for in-flight calls on commercial aircraft would be prohibited.
A position known as the Aviation Consumer Advocate (similar to the IRS’s Taxpayer Advocate) would be created at DOT to help consumers resolve their air travel complaints. DOT would be required to incorporate new technologies in consumer complaint options.
A national task force would be established to address sexual misconduct in passenger aviation, which would review current practices, protocols, and requirements for air carriers’ responses to sexual misconduct allegations. The civil penalty for interfering with cabin or flight crew would be increased.
FAA safety training would be enhanced, and training to recognize signs of human trafficking would be required for safety personnel.
The FAA would pursue alternative methods of tracking aircraft over oceans, including international collaboration for developing standards to improve tracking.
The FAA would be required to review cabin evacuation assumptions to ensure that everyone can safely evacuate an airliner in an emergency within the required timeframe.
Flight crews would have a mandatory 10-hour break between work shifts.
Integrating Unmanned Aircraft Systems
This section of the bill would aim to further the integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS, or drones) into the national airspace. It’d advance low-altitude UAS traffic management systems and services in addition to advancing the development of sense-and-avoid and other technologies at UAS test ranges.
The FAA would be required to update regulations to authorize the carriage of property by operators of small UAS, and DOT would be authorized to update existing regulations for UAS package delivery.
Disaster Recovery Programs
FEMA disaster relief and Stafford Act programs would be reformed to ensure that a percentage of disaster relief assistance is invested in pre-disaster hazard mitigation to help states, tribes, and local governments can pre-empt the damage caused by disasters. It’d also clarify the uses of mitigation funding for different types of disasters (such as wildfires and floods)
This section would also seek to:
Expedite assistance for recipients of FEMA aid, resolve issues more quickly, and rebuild more efficiently.
Provide flexibility in meeting disaster survivors’ housing needs.
Help communities meet the shelter needs of pets in disasters.
The TSA would be authorized for three years at an average funding level of $7.9 billion annually. A five-year term would be established for the TSA Administrator, which would help the agency bridge administration transitions.
The TSA would also be:
Authorized to create up to 200 additional canine teams to build domestic capacity for testing and certifying explosive detection dogs.
Required to make real-time information on wait times via technology at each airport security checkpoint available to the public online and in airport terminals.
Leverage the private sector to make PreCheck enrollment easier for passengers and directs TSA to meet specific targets for expanding PreCheck enrollment.
The NTSB would be allowed to disclose still images during its investigation of a safety failure. It’d also be required to produce a report on its “Most Wanted List” selection process and a methodology to accompany each recommendation.
This bill was amended from its original form to serve as the legislative vehicle for the above provisions, but it would still serve its original purpose: to extend the liability insurance coverage of state-licensed medical professionals to provide medical services to members of athletic teams and their staff that travel across state lines.