Biden Signs Broad $105 Billion Aviation Safety And Infrastructure Bill Into Law

( — On Thursday May 16, President Joe Biden signed the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2024. The bill passed both the House and the Senate with broad bipartisan support.

Chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, Washington Democrat Representative Maria Cantwell, referred to the bill as a big win for Americans. While there were a few points of contention while hashing out the details, concerns over the state of air travel are widespread across the political spectrum. This could go a long way toward addressing them.

Over the time period between 2024 and 2028, there will be $105 billion in funding allocated for use by the FAA, as well as $738 million for the National Transportation Safety Board. Some funding is specifically earmarked to address particular issues. For instance, $67 billion is to be used for safety programs to reform aircraft certification and air carrier oversight, among other safety issues. FAA infrastructure improvement grants for 3,300 airports account for $19 billion. Another $18 billion is to be used for modernizing FAA systems and technologies.

The president commented that these changes will improve travel experiences for passengers. Among the many standards put forth in the bill was a directive that reaffirms the Department of Transportation’s rule that mandates automatic refunds. Biden asserted that travelers shouldn’t have to “jump through endless hoops” to receive refunds in cases where their flights are cancelled or significantly delayed. The bill also includes provisions requiring 24-hour access to customer service and prohibiting fees for family seating.

The FAA Reauthorization Act also addresses the 3,000 vacancies in air traffic controller positions. They will be required to increase access to training simulators nationwide and conduct research regarding just how many controllers are needed. Additionally, protections for aviation workers are outlined.

Teamsters-endorsed provisions in the final legislation include protecting airline employees from assault, a mandatory pilot retirement age of 65, and protection for Teamsters-represented manufacturing jobs. Interim Director of the Teamsters Airline Division, Bob Fisher, praised the bill for the “clear, positive difference” it will make both for workers and passengers.

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