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Monday, January 24, 2011

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization: An Overview of Legislative Action in the 111th Congress

Bart Elias, Coordinator
Specialist in Aviation Policy

Reauthorization of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) programs will likely be a issue of considerable interest during the first session of the 112th Congress. The previous FAA authorization, Vision 100—Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act (P.L. 108-176, hereinafter referred to as “Vision 100”) expired at the end of FY2007. Attempts to enact a successor law failed in the 110th and 111th Congresses. Without passage of new multiyear legislation, aviation trust fund revenue collections and aviation program authority have been continued through a series of short-term extensions. The latest of these, the Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2010, Part IV (P.L. 111-329), was enacted on December 22, 2010, extending FAA programs and aviation trust fund revenue collections through March 31, 2011.

Both the House and the Senate also passed versions of longer-term FAA reauthorization, H.R. 1586, in late March 2010. However, a conference committee to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill did not meet, and the bill was never enacted. The bill number was subsequently used for purposes unrelated to FAA reauthorization. Nonetheless, the FAA reauthorization language from H.R. 1586 may be used as the basis for debate over FAA reauthorization in the new Congress.

Although the 111
th Congress did not pass multiyear FAA reauthorization legislation, the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-216), was enacted in August 2010. The act addresses a number of airline safety issues related to pilot training and records keeping and airline safety management systems.

This report examines the key issues that arose during the 111
th Congress and outlines the major differences between the House-passed and Senate-passed reauthorization bills. Among the more controversial differences were 
  • labor provisions in the House-passed bill that would bring non-aviation employees of express carriers, like FedEx, under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) instead of the Railway Labor Act (RLA); 
  • a provision in the House-passed bill that would raise the cap on airport passenger facility charges (PFCs); 
  • provisions in the House-passed bill requiring the FAA to inspect foreign repair stations that work on U.S. air carrier aircraft or components installed on such aircraft at least two times annually and impose drug and alcohol testing programs at these foreign facilities that would not specifically give status to existing international agreements regarding these matters; and 
  • proposals for increasing the number of slots at Washington Reagan National Airport.

Date of Report: January 13, 2011
Number of Pages: 97
Order Number: R40410
Price: $29.95

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