Today, the U.S. House unanimously approved H.R. 302, the "Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2018," which invests in airport improvements, introduces new protections for aviation customers, establishes a framework for drones to promote safety and innovation, and streamlines the certification process for safe aviation components, making it easier for Seventh District manufacturers and aviation suppliers accounting for millions of dollars' worth of local economic activity to get their products to market faster. The measure provides long-term funding certainty through fiscal year 2023, and contains language authored by Seventh District Representative Rob Woodall to clarify regulatory jurisdiction over air ambulance providers, and offer consumers an avenue to address billing complaints.
"Working together across the aisle to move crucial legislation to the President's desk is far more common than many may realize, and this bill is another example," said Rep. Woodall. "It provides long-term certainty for the industry and those working day-in and day-out to keep America's airspace safe and reliable, but it also makes vital reforms that will free up our innovators and job creators in Georgia and right here in the Seventh District. Removing excessive federal bureaucracy that stands between our local manufacturers and economic success means a more efficient government and more jobs back home. I'm very proud of the bipartisan work that got us to this point, and look forward to President Trump signing it into law very soon."
Among the regulatory reforms Woodall mentions, certification reform for the aviation industry is at the top of the list of wins for several Seventh District companies including Gulfstream's 2017 Supplier of the Year, A.S.A.P Technologies. Other local companies poised to benefit from the reform include -- but are not limited to -- A.E. Petsche, CORUS 360, Netplanner Systems, and American Cybersystems. As suppliers of aircraft manufacturers, companies such as these have historically had production hindered due to an antiquated and cumbersome federal certification process for their products. The reforms in the FAA Reauthorization streamline that process to preserve vital safety measures while allowing proven manufacturers to do what they do best at a much faster pace.
"We appreciate the House passing a five-year FAA Reauthorization bill. This bill will help ensure the FAA and US manufacturers remain the global leaders in aviation safety," added Robert Glasscock, Vice President, Gulfstream ODA (Organizational Designation Authorization) Lead Administrator. "The FAA safety certification reform represents a significant and positive change that will ensure the full benefits of ODA are achieved. These reforms also incorporate efficiencies into the certification process that will address delays in bringing new safety-enhancing products to the global marketplace."
"The long-term certainty and important reforms included in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 will help advance the general aviation manufacturing and maintenance industry, and the economy," said Sarah McCann, spokesperson for the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), of which companies in Gwinnett and Forsyth counties are members. "Streamlining federal processes and paving the way for manufacturers to get their products to market safely, but more efficiently, benefits Seventh District citizens and businesses, as well as the customers they serve. We thank Representative Woodall for his work on this issue, which will benefit manufacturers in Georgia's Seventh District and beyond."
The legislation also includes a variety of other provisions that would provide additional funds for disaster relief and modify federal disaster programs, as well as reauthorize the National Transportation Safety Board and Transportation Security Administration.
FAA Reauthorization of 2018 High Points:
Advisory Committee on Air Ambulance Patient Billing and other reforms
Found in Sections 418, 419, and 420 of the legislation, language authored by Rep. Woodall establishes an advisory committee to recommend solutions to improve the disclosure of charges and fees for air medical services, better inform consumers of insurance options for such services, and protect consumers from balance billing, and other predatory business practices. The advisory committee will include representation from health insurance providers, patient and consumer advocacy groups, State insurance regulators, and additional stakeholders. The measure improves the consumer complaint process for patients who believe they were excessively billed, and mandates that air ambulance providers disclose the hotline number and website on any billing correspondence. Further, Section 424 establishes the position of the Aviation Consumer Advocate, who will be responsible for pursuing enforcement or corrective actions that would be in the public interest on behalf of consumers.
Airport Improvement Program Grants
A pilot program that allows the FAA to provide Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds to states as a block grant would be expanded to include as many as 20 states per fiscal year, rather than the previous 10.
The federal share of airport project costs would be 75 percent at medium or large hub airports such as Hartsfield-Jackson International. Projects at other airports, including in states participating in the block grant program, could be eligible for a 90 percent federal share.
New Grant Program
The measure would establish a new discretionary grant program for airports. It authorizes $1.02 billion for grants in fiscal 2019, increasing to $1.11 billion in fiscal 2023. At least 50 percent of the funds would have to be used for non-hub and small hub airports, as well as general aviation airports.
The measure would bar the use of e-cigarettes on flights. It would be unlawful to put a pet in an overhead storage compartment. Violations would be subject to a civil penalty of as much as $25,000. Air carriers would be prohibited from involuntarily removing ticketed passengers once they've been cleared to board the plane.
Congressman Woodall represents the Seventh Congressional District of Georgia , which includes significant portions of Forsyth and Gwinnett counties, and currently serves as Chairman of the Rules Subcommittee on Legislative and Budget Process, as well as serving on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, and Budget Committee.