HAI’s Government Affairs team covers the latest on the FAA reauthorization process, how HAI’s pilot program to collect flight sound data is helping the FAA modify helicopter routes in the D.C. area, and progress on integrating advanced air mobility (AAM) into state markets among other news.


Rep. Beyer Hosts FAA Announcement of Plans to Alter Helicopter Routes in the D.C. Region
Congressman Don Beyer (D-Va.-08) joined the FAA this week at the Fairlington Community Center in Arlington, Virginia, to announce plans to modify helicopter routes in the District of Columbia and parts of Northern Virginia based on the results of a six-month pilot program launched by Helicopter Association International (HAI) and the Eastern Region Helicopter Council (ERHC) in partnership with PlaneNoise to collect flight-tracking data. The FAA determined its route modifications by correlating the data collected during the program with helicopter sound complaints and identifying opportunities for altitudinal and zone changes.

The pilot program was initiated in response to recommendations from a 2021 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which Beyer and other federal lawmakers representing the Washington metropolitan area had requested.

Representatives of four municipal governments in Northern Virginia—Tom Arnold of Fairfax County, Libby Garvey of Arlington County, Justin Wilson of Alexandria City, and Dave Tarter of Falls Church City— announced their decision to fund a one-year extension to continue the data collection and analysis.

In a statement at the event, Jeff Smith, chair of the HAI Board of Directors, praised the leaders of the four municipal governments for their commitment to continuing the program. Smith also expressed his appreciation to Beyer and the FAA for their collaboration with the helicopter operator community. He noted that the HAI Fly Neighborly Program has promoted better relationships between communities and helicopter operators since 1982 by providing techniques for sound mitigation and effective communication between stakeholders.

HAI understands the importance of data-driven solutions and collaboration among multiple government stakeholders, including the Department of Defense, in achieving this success. This pilot program is a useful case study for how government and industry can work together to address issues and deliver tangible results.

California Senate Transportation Committee Passes SB800 on AAM, Sends on for Additional Review
Last month, California introduced Senate Bill 800 (SB800), relating to advanced air mobility (AAM) technology. The bill, if enacted, would require the California Department of Transportation, in coordination with the Office of Planning and Research and the State Air Resources Board, to establish an advisory committee to assess, among other things, pathways for feasible implementation of electrification goals for the aviation industry.

This week, the bill passed the California Senate Transportation Committee with no opposition. The bill now heads to the Appropriations Committee for further review.

HAI, in unison with other AAM industry leaders, submitted written testimony stating our dedicated support for the enactment and implementation of SB800. HAI is excited to see states like California facilitating the safe and efficient integration of AAM into the state market. We look forward to the passage of this bill.

FAA Acting Administrator Announces Departure
Billy Nolen, FAA acting administrator, recently announced that he will leave the role this summer. Nolen, an aviation safety executive, and former airline pilot joined the FAA in January 2022 as associate administrator for aviation safety before being selected for the top leadership role. His departure will create a bigger void at the FAA: The agency has been without a Senate-confirmed leader for a year and has several senior officials working in acting capacities.

The FAA does not have a defined succession plan and is currently operating with only two of its five top officials. The White House plans to name a new acting administrator before Nolen departs, having already grappled with finding a permanent leader for the FAA after nominee Phil Washington withdrew his candidacy. Congress is increasingly wary of vacancies at the FAA, especially with air travel ramping up to meet or exceed pre-pandemic levels, the recent uptick of near collisions at airports across the country, and Congress drafting a new FAA reauthorization bill.

Many in the aviation industry saw Nolen as a potential candidate for the permanent FAA role. HAI is thankful for Nolen’s leadership, and we look forward to continuing to work with him and the FAA during this transition.

Global Aircraft Maintenance Safety Improvement Act Calls for Safety Standards at FAA-Certified Foreign Repair Stations
US senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) introduced the Global Aircraft Maintenance Safety Improvement Act, a bill aimed at ensuring that foreign aviation repair stations are required to meet the same safety standards as American repair stations and that foreign technicians undergo background checks and drug/alcohol testing as their American counterparts now do. This legislation would ensure that aircraft maintenance workers who are employed by US companies around the world match the qualifications of US-based technicians. The bill also asks air carriers to keep better maintenance records.

Currently, around 1,000 maintenance and repair stations certified by the FAA operate outside the United States, exempt from FAA oversight. According to Capito and Baldwin, these stations service American aircraft but operate at a lower safety standard than domestic stations.

Both senators have identified this issue as a top priority as Congress moves through the FAA reauthorization process.

Congressional Staffers Review Policy Proposals Ahead of the FAA Reauthorization Deadline
Congressional staffers are currently reviewing more than 1,500 policy proposals ahead of the FAA reauthorization deadline. More than one-third of the proposals come from members of Congress. Although determining which proposals the FAA will be able to execute will be no easy feat, staffers believe they will meet the September 30 deadline. At the Advanced Aviation Innovation Summit this week, Hunter Presti, Republican staff director of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Aviation Subcommittee, noted that even if Congress produces 100 terrific proposals, the FAA may be unable to properly execute them all.

Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), chair of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, intends to hold a markup in May so that everything can get done before the August recess.

Nolen Testifies Before House Appropriations Committee on FY 2024 FAA Budget Request
Billy Nolen, FAA acting administrator, testified on Wednesday before the House Appropriations Committee on the FAA’s FY 2024 budget request. Nolen stated during his opening remarks that having the safest and most efficient aerospace system in the world comes at a cost, and that recent close calls serve as a reminder of how safety requires continuous and robust funding.

The president’s budget request of $19.8 billion for FY 2024, combined with $5 billion to reduce the backlog of airport and air traffic projects from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, is critical to maintain the FAA’s safety record, Nolen said. The FY 2024 budget requests an additional $26.2 million to strengthen the agency’s safety oversight in several areas, including funding for 53 new positions to complete the implementation of the Aircraft Certification, Safety, and Accountability Act and 72 positions to supplement existing safety programs such as efforts to improve certification of small airplanes, safety data analysis, and other key aviation safety activities. In addition, the FAA seeks $117 million to increase the hiring of air traffic controllers and to reduce the air traffic controller training backlog. The FAA intends to hire 1,800 trainees in FY 2024.

The FAA seeks an additional $19.6 million to modernize aging databases and applications and to move to more reliable systems. This funding will allow the FAA to respond to unexpected events and to increase capital investments when needed. The budget asks for $510.8 million in the Facilities & Equipment account, to improve air traffic control facilities.

Nolen urged members of Congress to provide sufficient funding, stating that any cuts will only slow the modernization of old systems, stagnate efforts to train more controllers, and risk the FAA’s work to usher in the next era of aviation.

HAI International News

Industry Association Urges Policymakers to Come to Agreement on Apr. 25 Refuel EU Meeting
Airlines for Europe (A4E) urged European Union (EU) policymakers to come out of the latest Refuel EU informal negotiations with an agreement that will provide certainty for European aviation and allow the EU to focus on building capacity for a thriving sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) industry in Europe. Before the meeting of EU policymakers this week, A4E reiterated its calls for a European SAF mandate that ensures a single mandate in a single aviation market, ambitious but achievable quotas, ambitious standards for truly sustainable SAF, and price support mechanisms closing the gap between SAFs and fossil fuels.

Before the meeting, Laurent Donceel, acting managing director of A4E, said:

“Sustainable aviation fuel will play a critical role in decarbonizing European aviation. With the right policy in place, 30 SAF plants could be built across Europe over the next seven years, saving 7 million tons of CO2 annually by 2030. But we need the final pieces of the puzzle to fit in place. We cannot have a situation where Refuel EU is stuck in a holding pattern because of disagreements between policymakers.”


  • 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 joined HAI as director of government affairs in 2019. He came to HAI 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.

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.