The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a five-year reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration that includes millions of dollars in funding for new facilities at the William J. Hughes FAA Technical Center in Egg Harbor Township.
The bill, passed by a vote of 398-23, did not privatize the country’s air-traffic-control system, which had been discussed at length before the reauthorization. It did, however, direct the federal government to set a minimum size for airline seats, bar passengers from being kicked off overbooked planes, ensure flight attendants have a 10-hour rest period between assignments and consider whether to restrict animals on planes.
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House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., backed away from a plan to shift control of the nation’s air traffic control system from the FAA to a private corporation because they didn’t have the votes to pass it, according to The Associated Press.
One of the biggest winners from the bill, however, was the Tech Center.
According to U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd, the legislation authorizes millions of dollars for additional facilities at the Tech Center that include an infrastructure sustainment/cyber lab and the National Air Space Priority 1 building.
Some of the specific research programs the Tech Center is expected to have a role in with this new funding include:
Establishing procedures for issuing air navigation facility certificates for operators of unmanned aircrafts, such as drones
Developing and allowing flights of unmanned aircraft equipped with sense-and-avoid and beyond-line-of-sight systems
Developing a plan for the integration of unmanned aircrafts into the national airspace system
Reviewing the framework of the FAA’s cybersecurity principles and policies
Determining that unleaded gasoline qualifies as a replacement for fuel for eligible planes
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“Today’s passage of a five-year FAA reauthorization demonstrates that good, bipartisan legislation can still advance in Congress despite these polarizing times,” LoBiondo said in a statement. “This bill ensures long-term stability at the FAA while advancing the nation’s aviation interests and safety in the skies. It will allow critical research programs to continue uninterrupted while ensuring our FAA Technical Center has a leading role in developing, testing and deploying advanced aviation technologies in the 21st century.”
The bill will be sent to the U.S. Senate for a vote.