Today, the House passed H.R. 636 to extend the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) programs until September 30, 2017. While manufacturers are eager for the long-term certainty that a full FAA authorization brings, the 15-month bipartisan extension negotiated between the House and Senate is a next-best option. Manufacturers appreciate the effort to avoid stop-gap extensions, which create instability and disadvantage our job creators when a bipartisan bill like this can’t get over the finish line.
To reach bipartisan consensus, the bill also includes some modest policy provisions on safety and security that were negotiated between House and Senate aviation leaders. Of note, the legislation includes additional guidance on unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or drone use, specifically for emergency response and critical infrastructure. The innovative applications of drones are endless and show great promise for manufacturers who are looking to UAS technology to inspect and secure facilities and other land-based assets. This guidance takes a practical approach to ensure safety remains the top priority while realizing the potential of this new technology.
With a 15-month reprieve, there is still important work to accomplish, and the NAM urges Congress to seek a long-term bipartisan FAA reauthorization ahead of the September 30, 2017, deadline. Reforms that would enhance the competitiveness of U.S. aerospace manufacturing through improvements to the FAA’s certification process for aircraft design and modifications are critical and should not be delayed. As aviation technology advances and manufacturing becomes more innovative, red tape and bureaucratic inefficiencies pose a risk to our globally competitive and enviable position in this sector. The FAA international certification process must not encumber, but strengthen American exports of aerospace products, which grew its annual trade surplus to a record $82.5 billion in 2015.
Today, Congress acted to keep critical FAA programs and the world’s largest aviation market open without further delay, and manufacturers urge the Senate to quickly get the FAA extension to the president’s desk. However, Congress must now recommit to working on a bipartisan, long-term bill that addresses critical reforms that support manufacturing competitiveness as well as bold funding solutions to tackle growing airport infrastructure demand, which create backlogs that cost American travelers and manufacturers billions of dollars annually.