Hoeven: FAA Reauthorization, Senate Appropriations Bills Support Priorities for North Dakota's Airports, General Aviators
FARGO, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today held a roundtable with general aviation leaders from around the state to review priorities the senator helped secure in the 2016 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization legislation passed by Congress last month and the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 funding measures, which he helped craft as an Appropriations Committee member. These include measures to help ensure air service in small and mid-sized communities and keep more healthy and qualified pilots flying, issues that are important to the state’s general aviation industry. Hoeven stressed the important role of general aviation not just in the state’s economy, but also in supporting critical services, such as medical care and law enforcement, among others.
“Through the wide range of services it supports, North Dakota’s general aviation industry provides immense value to our state’s residents and businesses,” Hoeven said. “We worked through the FAA Reauthorization legislation, as well as our annual appropriations bills for the Transportation and Homeland Security departments, to enhance our investments in airport infrastructure, security operations and other priorities. Doing so provides the support our airports and general aviation industry need to meet the demands of our economy while also ensuring the safe, reliable and convenient transportation of people and goods.”
The FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016, which Hoeven worked to pass, included the following provisions in support of North Dakota’s general aviation industry:
• Ensuring More Healthy, Qualified Pilots Can Fly
- Includes the Pilot’s Bill of Rights II, which the senator cosponsored and the Senate passed in December.
- Updates the FAA 3rd class medical standards to provide a safe and transparent process to ensure the health of pilots, empowering them to seek treatment for any medical conditions while also providing an appeals process for pilots facing FAA investigation.
- Broadens the protections provided in the original Pilot’s Bill of Rights signed into law in 2012, which Hoeven also cosponsored.
• Improving Air Service in Small Communities
- Establishes a working group to help attract and retain air transportation service in small communities.
As chairman of the Appropriations Committee on Homeland Security and as a member of the full Senate Appropriations Committee, Hoeven works through annual funding bills to support programs that help meet the needs of the state’s air service industry and its customers. To this end, the senator worked to include the following measures in the FY2017 Homeland Security and Transportation appropriations bills:
• Enhancing Investments in Airport Infrastructure, Safety
- Includes a Hoeven-sponsored amendment to help existing airports, like Williston’s Sloulin Field International, that are in critical need of expansion and relocation due to their essential economic impact on their surrounding communities, but are unable to grow their current facilities because of various physical constraints.
- Directs $1 billion toward the FAA Next Generation Air Transportation Systems (NextGen).
- Maintains funding for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP), which is critical for ongoing capital improvement projects at airports in North Dakota.
- Expands total funding for the FAA, supporting air traffic control personnel, maintenance technicians, safety inspectors and operational support personnel.
• Providing for Secure Travel
- Provides robust funding for aviation security operations at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) without increasing fees.
- Increases funding above the administration’s request, as the committee did for FY2016, for screeners, canine teams, equipment and innovation to avoid unacceptable wait times in the future. Specifically, these increases support 1,344 additional screeners, 50 new canine teams, new explosives trace detection systems and investments in TSA’s Innovation Task Force, which looks at future technology solutions.
• Ensuring Reliable, Convenient Air Service
- Fully funds the Contract Towers program to help ease future congestion and reduce delays for travelers in U.S. airspace.
- Maintains funding to support flight service to smaller communities under the Essential Air Service (EAS) program.
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