House committee supports small aircraft revitalization bill

July 10, 2013

A bill setting an end-of-2015 deadline for the FAA to revamp small-airplane certification rules would revitalize the industry and boost safety, and the measure—which won key committee support July 10—should continue to move forward, said AOPA and four other industry organizations.

The aviation groups had urged the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to support the Small Airplane Revitalization Act (SARA), which the committee did unanimously during a “mark-up” session.

The legislation is “based on the recommendations of a recently completed FAA Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC). The ARC developed these recommendations over an eighteen month period with input from over 150 government and industry experts from around the world. The FAA and the general aviation community have identified implementation of these recommendations as key to improving general aviation safety,” the letter to the committee’s members said.

In addition to AOPA, signers of the letter included the Experimental Aircraft Association, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, the National Air Transportation Association, and the National Business Aviation Association. They noted that the bill “has broad bipartisan support and merits favorable consideration” from the committee.

AOPA participated in the 18-month aviation rulemaking committee, co-chaired by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, to develop recommendations for the FAA, and supports the concept of developing certification solutions appropriate for the size and performance of aircraft from piston singles to multi-engine jets—a goal the FAA has said it embraces for the Part 23 regulations. AOPA has emphasized that “prescriptive requirements” cannot keep up with the industry’s technological changes.

In May, AOPA reported that five House members brought the bill forward in hopes of creating a regulatory environment that removes barriers to investment in new aircraft designs. An equally important goal is to make vital safety equipment available to existing aircraft without the sometimes prohibitive costs now involved. The legislation would require the FAA to complete the regulatory overhaul by Dec. 31, 2015.

The lead sponsor, GA Caucus member Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) was joined by a bipartisan group of original co-sponsors consisting of Reps. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), the House GA Caucus co-chair and an AOPA member,  and GA Caucus members Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), Rick Nolan (D-Minn.), and another AOPA member Todd Rokita (R-Ind.). Pompeo has said the existing certification system drives costs up as much as tenfold for safety and technology upgrades of aircraft. 

The bill, he said, would cut through red tape and help the industry thrive.

To date, the number of co-sponsors of the bill has increased to 31 including caucus co-chair Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.) and his fellow AOPA and caucus member  Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.). Other House GA Caucus members who have joined the bill include Reps. Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.), Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), John Campbell (R-Calif.), Andre Carson (D-Ind.), Howard Coble (R-N.C.), Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), John Duncan Jr. (R-Tenn.), Tim Griffin (R-Ark.), Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan), Bill Johnson (R-Ohio), Kenny Marchant (R-Texas), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Bill Owens (D-N.Y.), Tom Petri (R-Wis.), Trey Radel (R-Fla.), Reid Ribble (R-Wis.), Aaron Schock (R-Ill.), Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.), and Don Young (R-Alaska).

Under the leadership of Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) and Ranking Member Nick Rahall (D-W.V.), and aviation subcommittee Chairman Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) and Ranking Member Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), the bill was moved along expeditiously to a vote by the committee on July 10. During the panel's consideration, Graves, Lipinski, and Nolan spoke briefly about why the bill is necessary and vital for the GA industry. Also adding favorable comments were key GA supporters Radel and Davis, who both spoke persuasively about the importance of general aviation to their home districts, and encouraged a vote for passage.

The bill was passed unanimously by the committee and  moves to the full House. Shuster included the industry associations' letter in the committee’s record.

“We applaud the steadfast leadership of Congressman Pompeo in taking the lead on this critical legislation,” said Lorraine Howerton, AOPA vice president of legislative affairs.  “AOPA will continue to strive for the safety of our pilots, by advocating for improved technologies and the reliability of aircraft.  We appreciate the strong support of so many of our GA Caucus supporters in Congress for recognizing that need as well in voting for this legislation.”