Senate committee advances aviation revitalization bill

July 31, 2013

The Small Airplane Revitalization Act, which won swift and unanimous passage in the House of Representatives, has taken another step forward with a favorable vote in a Senate committee.

AOPA welcomed the news that the bill was approved July 30 by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. The panel passed the bill with a voice vote. The legislation would require the FAA to revise small-airplane certification regulations based on an aviation rulemaking panel’s recommendations by a deadline of Dec. 31, 2015

"It is certainly gratifying to see the Small Airplane Revitalization Act pass out of committee in the Senate so quickly after the House approved the entire bill. We can only hope that the full Senate will act with similar speed," said AOPA President Craig Fuller in a statement from EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis.

"As aviation organizations gather here in Oshkosh for AirVenture 2013, you can’t help but notice just how innovative and dynamic the general aviation industry has become," Fuller said. "A revised Part 23 certification program that allows for more advanced safety features and lowers aircraft certification costs would be a great boon to aviators everywhere. I urge Congress and the FAA to adopt these proposed changes with all due speed."

The Senate bill (a companion measure to the legislation that won unanimous House approval on July 16) was sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and 15 co-sponsors. The FAA has said it agrees in principle with the regulatory overhaul’s goal of making certification of aircraft and certain avionics less expensive, thereby allowing aircraft owners to install advanced avionics and safety features at lower cost.

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association, which led the move to overhaul Part 23 regulations, expressed satisfaction with the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee's passage of the bill.

"This legislation will help industry and the FAA develop and adopt more effective regulations and standards that will spur manufacturers’ investment in new aircraft designs; it will also help put critical lifesaving equipment into the existing fleet of airplanes," said GAMA President Pete Bunce in a news release. "These changes represent a ‘win-win’ by enhancing safety and relaxing unnecessary regulatory cost burdens on industry and the FAA, which will help revitalize the lighter end of general aviation."

As the House and Senate were acting on the legislation, the FAA on July 26 released the report containing the recommendations made by its Part 23 Reorganization Aviation Rulemaking Committee. 

AOPA, which was an active participant in the committee’s work, reported that both Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta issued statements stressing the regulatory overhaul’s potential to improve safety and lower costs.

Foxx also described the potential impact as "a win-win situation" for the aviation sector, including "manufacturers, pilots and the general aviation community as a whole."

Huerta asserted the FAA’s intent to "embrace innovation" with the new regulations that would stand the test of time.