Four Reasons the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 Is Good for Manufacturers

Yet again, the House of Representatives proved that Republicans and Democrats can work together to pass bipartisan infrastructure legislation. In a final vote of 393–13, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2018 (H.R. 4) passed the House.

Here are four reasons why the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 is good for manufacturers:

H.R. 4 provides long-term, stable funding for airport improvement projects on aviation infrastructure, such as runways and taxiways.

America’s manufacturers rely on the nation’s air transportation system to help support business competitiveness, efficiency and growth across all sectors of our membership. From 2017 to 2021, the nation’s airports will require $19.1 billion in capital improvements, with 30 percent of those costs needed just to maintain a state of good repair and 63 percent needed for new capacity to accommodate a 31 percent increase in passengers and a 100 percent increase in cargo activity. Long-term, stable funding is necessary to address these issues.

H.R. 4 supports manufacturing competitiveness by improving and reforming the FAA process for certifying aircraft, engines, avionics and other aerospace products.

Certification reforms would also improve the competitiveness of U.S. aerospace manufacturing through improvements to the FAA’s certification processes for aircraft design and modification, as it would resolve inconsistent interpretations previously made by the FAA, which were impediments to innovation and manufacturing job growth. For example, in 2016, delay on a major aircraft certification project cost one manufacturer approximately $10 million per month.

H.R. 4 maintains important ongoing efforts to harmonize lithium battery regulations with international standards.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) has worked to support globally harmonized lithium battery provisions in the U.S. hazardous materials regulations and opposes attempts to move to a U.S.-only regulatory policy that would put American manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage. Manufacturers believe global standards for domestic and international shipments by air enhance safety. It simplifies packaging and labeling requirements and supports uniform training programs for employees who handle lithium battery shipments. The NAM opposed an amendment to create a patchwork system in its Key Manufacturing Votes.

H.R. 4 includes the Denham-Costa-Cuellar Amendment, which clarifies the intent of current law to ensure motor carriers can operate under one standard, avoiding a patchwork of different state laws.

Manufacturers operate in a just-in-time business climate, where competitiveness relies heavily on transportation efficiency, especially in the trucking sector. Manufacturers must be able to quickly and cost effectively move goods across state borders within a uniform set of rules. Based on 2014 litigation targeting the trucking industry, the 9th Circuit Court narrowly interpreted and reversed the intent of a 20-year-old law, the FAA Authorization Act of 1994 (FAAAA). FAAAA ensured interstate truck drivers had one set of “hours of service” requirements. The decision subjected drivers to patchwork state regulations in addition to federal rules. Duplicative requirements create unnecessary confusion for the driver and excessive costs and liabilities to shippers. If signed into law, H.R. 4 would affirm one set of rules for interstate commerce. The NAM included this amendment as a Key Manufacturing Vote.

This legislation supports manufacturing competitiveness, and the NAM sent a letter to all members of the U.S. House of Representatives that it will key-vote House passage of H.R. 4. The NAM continues to advocate action on similar legislation in the U.S. Senate.

Catie Kawchak

Director, Infrastructure, Innovation, and HR Policy at National Association of Manufacturers
Catie Kawchak is the Director of Infrastructure, Innovation, and HR Policy with the National Association of Manufacturers. Prior to joining the NAM, Catie was Representative Lou Barletta’s Senior Legislative Assistant and was responsible for managing all of his work on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Catie is a graduate of Calvin College and she has her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science with a minor in Economics.

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