The FAA reauthorization bill represents a unique opportunity to define US stance on crucial aviation policies.

Dedicated enthusiasts of Advocating for You have undoubtedly read our discussions about the lead-up to congressional action on the 2023 FAA reauthorization bill. Imagine selecting your most-cherished championship game in sports, whether it’s the World Cup, World Series, Super Bowl, or NBA Finals. To aficionados of aviation politics, the reauthorization bill encompasses the excitement of all those games combined.

Every few years, Congress must pass legislation reauthorizing the FAA. During this period, stakeholders advocate for their priorities and address FAA policies that will shape the US aviation industry’s trajectory for the duration of the bill, which, in this case, is five years. This bill presents a unique opportunity to define the nation’s stance on crucial aviation policies. Matters like advanced air mobility (AAM), workforce development, infrastructure, safety—and more—take center stage as Congress debates incorporating policies related to these issues into the bill. This is our opportunity to ensure that the voice of vertical aviation is an integral part of the conversation.

A Triumph of Bipartisanship

Amid discussions about these significant policy issues, HAI received welcome news that the House of Representatives had reached bipartisan approval and passed its version of the FAA reauthorization bill, the Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act. This bill comprises a comprehensive array of provisions that affect all aspects of aviation, including the agency’s structure and functions.

The significance of this bill’s bipartisan nature should not be overlooked. Preceding its endorsement of the bill on the House floor, the US House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee provided a remarkable bipartisan vote of 63–0 approving the bill.

This triumph of bipartisanship owes its realization to the guidance of the committee’s leadership. HAI extends its gratitude to the House leaders for their commendable bipartisan cooperation, including Sam Graves (R-Mo.-06) and Rick Larsen (D-Wash.-02), the committee’s chair and ranking member, respectively, as well as Garret Graves (R-La.-06) and Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.-09), who respectively hold the positions of chair and ranking member within the Aviation Subcommittee.

The general aviation (GA) industry is fortunate to have these House leaders as champions. Their backgrounds and experience have allowed them to shape provisions that bolster general aviation.

Chair Sam Graves, a longtime general aviation pilot, possesses a Piper PA-11 Cub Special, is currently restoring a Beech AT-10, and co-owns a North American T-6 Texan and a Vultee BT-13 Valiant. He also flies the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk and other classic vintage aircraft in air shows. Rep. Graves has stated, “GA is foundational to our aviation system. It is where many of our pilots, mechanics, and others begin their careers, gaining valuable experience on their path to professions throughout the industry.” With his deep understanding of aviation, Rep. Graves added the first-ever General Aviation–titled section to the reauthorization bill.

Ranking Member Rick Larsen hails from the Pacific Northwest, a region steeped in aerospace heritage. He expresses his dedication as “committed to ensuring aviation safety, fostering innovation in the US airspace, improving US competitiveness in the global market, and enhancing the air travel experience for passengers.” The committee’s efforts will have a substantial impact on jobs and the economic landscape of his district.

Garret Graves, chair of the Aviation Subcommittee, represents the southern Louisiana region, a major hub for the vertical aviation sector. He is interested in advancing technologies and co-chairs the Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus.

Representing Memphis, Tennessee, Ranking Member Steve Cohen’s constituency aligns with his history of collaborative work on bipartisan transportation bills aimed at enhancing the nation’s infrastructure—work he continues to do in the current Congress.

The leadership jointly crafted a bill designed to address the shortage of pilots, streamline the agency’s regulatory procedures, tackle operations beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS), and incorporate numerous provisions that reinforce safety and training—each of these being significant priorities for HAI. This legislation adopts a forward-looking approach, empowering the FAA to swiftly embrace innovation, including initiatives within AAM.

In a press release endorsing the House bill, James Viola, president and CEO of HAI, remarked, “The success of all air operations is built on the foundation of a strong general aviation sector. The House bill strengthens America’s general aviation and includes specific provisions that support vertical aviation. These will be critical to securing our industry’s long-term success.”

Prioritizing General Aviation

This legislation takes long-overdue steps to prioritize GA by:

  • Increasing Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding to help improve infrastructure at GA airports, including a combined $50 million set-aside for the development of GA aircraft hangars and the development of transient ramp parking
  • Expanding the specifications for BasicMed–eligible aircraft
  • Reinforcing the FAA’s partnership in the Eliminate Aviation Gasoline Lead Emissions (EAGLE) initiative, including ensuring the continued availability of aviation gasoline
  • Addressing the ongoing shortage of designated pilot examiners (DPEs) by requiring the FAA to establish a program or office to provide national coordination and oversight of DPEs to ensure examiner supply meets local demand of pilot communities
  • Investing in the next generation of aviators, mechanics, manufacturers, and other aviation professionals through the establishment of the National Center for the Advancement of Aerospace
  • Establishing processes by which private aircraft owners or operators may request the FAA to block certain flight data or information of their aircraft from any public dissemination or display for noncommercial flights
  • Requiring the FAA to apply all policies, orders, and guidance issued equally and consistently to regulated persons, which includes ensuring that administration officials properly document findings and decisions throughout a project to avoid disruptions when personnel change
  • Addressing both the aircraft registry backlog and the Part 135 air carrier certification backlog
  • Prohibiting FAA investigations into any regulated person or entity from remaining open for more than two years without a determination being made.

A deeper dive on some of the provisions follows:

Sec. 221. ADS-B Safety-Enhancement Incentive Program. 

  • Establishes a rebate program to incentivize certain general aviation aircraft owners and operators to purchase and install safety-enhancing ADS-B technology on their aircraft.
  • The amount of a rebate is equal to the lesser of the cost of purchasing such technology or $2,000, and the owner or operator must redeem or present the rebate for payment within 180 days of issuance.

Sec. 261. Required Consultation with National Parks Overflights Advisory Group. 

  • Requires the FAA administrator and other agencies to consult with the National Parks Overflights Advisory Group and consider all advice, information, and recommendations that the advisory group provides.

Sec. 265. Low-Altitude Rotorcraft and Powered-Lift Operations. 

  • Requires the FAA administrator to establish or update low-altitude routes and flight procedures within three years after the date of enactment of this act to ensure safe rotorcraft and powered-lift aircraft operations within Class B airspace of the National Airspace System.

Sec. 301. Extension of the Aviation Workforce Development Programs. 

  • Amends Section 625 (the Aviation Workforce Development Programs) of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 to reauthorize funding levels for the aviation maintenance program and the aircraft pilot program at $15 million respectively for each of fiscal years 2024 through 2026.
  • Authorizes funding for an aviation manufacturing workforce development program at $15 million for the program for each of fiscal years 2024 through 2026.

Sec. 531. GAO Study on Expansion of the FAA Weather Camera Program. 

  • Directs the Government Accounting Office (GAO) to conduct a study regarding the feasibility and potential safety benefits of expanding the FAA’s Weather Camera Program to locations in the United States that lack weather camera services.

Sec. 535. Crash-Resistant Fuel Systems in Rotorcraft. 

  • Directs the FAA administrator to task the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC) to review and update the 2018 report of the Rotorcraft Occupation Protection Working Group by reviewing National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) data from 2016 to 2023 on post-crash fires in helicopter accidents and determining to what extent crash-resistant fuel systems could have prevented fatalities.
  • Mandates ARAC to develop recommendations to encourage helicopter owners and operators to expedite installation of crash-resistant fuel systems regardless of original certification and manufacture date and requires the FAA to implement the recommendations or work with the US Helicopter Safety Team, as appropriate, to implement the recommendations.

Sec. 609. Beyond Visual Line Of Sight Rulemaking. 

  • Mandates the FAA administrator to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) no later than four months after the date of enactment of this Act, with a final rule no later than 16 months after the date of enactment of this Act, for uncrewed aircraft systems (UASs) that operate beyond visual line of sight and primarily at or below 400 feet above ground level.
  • The rulemaking is required to include airworthiness standards for uncrewed aircraft, standards for associated elements of such aircraft, and criteria related to how remote pilots of such aircraft will be qualified to operate these UASs.

Sec. 652. Powered-Lift Aircraft Rulemakings. 

  • Requires the FAA to publish by the beginning of 2025 an NPRM and a final interim regulation for the operation of powered-lift aircraft.

More to Do

Although the bill has secured passage in the House, the journey remains incomplete. As of this writing, the Senate has yet to deliberate on its own iteration of the reauthorization bill. The next steps involve the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation taking up its version and advancing it for Senate approval, followed by a reconciliation process in which the House and Senate resolve the variations between their bills. Upon congressional approval of the reconciled version, the bill will move on to the president for his signature.

This entire process must conclude by Sep. 30, 2023. If Congress fails to finalize the bill before this date, an extension of the current authorization will become necessary via a continuing resolution.

For enthusiasts of aviation politics, this is truly an exciting time!


  • Cade Clark

    HAI’s VP of government affairs, Cade Clark has directed association advocacy programs for over 20 years. Growing up, he worked at an FBO where Cade learned to fly, washed planes, got in the mechanics’ way, idolized the old-timers and their stories, and deepened his love for all things general aviation.

  • John Shea

    John Shea is HAI’s senior director of government affairs. He came to the association in 2019 from the National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO), where he was interim president in 2018 and lead government affairs representative since 2017. Previously, as a legislative staffer, John advised multiple members of Congress on transportation policy.

  • Katia Veraza

    Katia Veraza is HAI’s manager of government affairs and regional relations. Prior to joining the association, Katia was a managing consultant for government affairs. She earned her master’s degree in political science from the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

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Cade Clark

Cade Clark

HAI’s VP of government affairs, Cade Clark has directed association advocacy programs for over 20 years. Growing up, he worked at an FBO where Cade learned to fly, washed planes, got in the mechanics’ way, idolized the old-timers and their stories, and deepened his love for all things general aviation.