Home Sen. Warner on final passage of FAA legislation

Sen. Warner on final passage of FAA legislation


mark warnerToday, the U.S. Senate voted 89-4 to approve bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through September 2017.

Following the vote, Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) issued a statement, noting that his provisions to promote unmanned systems technology and provide human trafficking training for flight attendants were included in the final bill. The bill also maintains the current flight rules in place for Reagan National, preventing changes that could have significantly overburdened flight operations at the airport.

“This legislation will lay the groundwork for a more robust reauthorization of FAA next year. I am especially pleased that it supports continued research into unmanned aerial systems technology – including extending the FAA-designated test site at Virginia Tech for three more years – and that we successfully fought back efforts to undermine the balance among Northern Virginia’s airports with additional slots at Reagan National,” said Sen. Warner. “As someone who got in on the ground floor of one game-changing technology – the wireless cell phone – in the eighties, I believe that unmanned systems have even more potential to transform the way we live our lives and go about our business. As Congress looks toward a longer-term FAA reauthorization next year, I will continue to push for additional investments in UAS research and provisions to safely integrate UAS into our airspace.”

With each reauthorization of the FAA bill, lawmakers from Western states typically attempt to add significant traffic at National Airport, which can result in congestion and delays at National while disrupting the balance of traffic at Dulles International Airport and Baltimore/Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport. In the past, these changes to flight rules have negatively impacted the health of Dulles International and led to longer lines and strained facilities at Reagan National. Working with Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) during Senate debate, Sen. Warner fended off multiple amendments that would have made harmful changes to the current flight rules in the Washington region, helping to preserve an appropriate balance among the region’s airports and protect Dulles’ status as an international gateway.

The bill also added several safety provisions to give authorities the needed resources to keep travelers safe from credible threats. These included an expansion of the TSA pre-check program and designated deterrence teams as well as increased vetting of airport workers.

Sen. Warner’s effort to promote the safe use and commercialization of unmanned systems technology were also successfully attached to the final FAA bill. The bill extends the authorization of the six FAA- designated UAS test sites for an additional three years and implements a pilot program suggested by Sen. Warner to defend airspaces against threats caused by drones. Virginia Tech currently operates one of these six test sites in partnership with Maryland and New Jersey, the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP). As the FAA works on safely integrating UAS, or drones, into our national airspace, these test sites provide crucial research and testing for safety purposes and for the development of this new game-changing technology.

The FAA bill also includes legislation to help prevent human trafficking. Key provisions from Sen. Warner and Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s (D-MN) bill to require airlines to provide training for flight attendants and certain other airline industry employees to recognize and report suspected human trafficking to law enforcement was part of the bipartisan legislation. Sens. Warner and Klobuchar worked to include language modeled on their bill because flight attendants, through their interactions with large numbers of air travelers, are uniquely positioned to identify potential victims and help bring human traffickers to justice.

Without this action by Congress, the agency’s legal authority would have expired on July 15.. Congress will have to revisit FAA reauthorization again next year in order to provide a long-term fix for the agency. The bill now heads to the President’s desk for his signature.



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