The latest on the House T&I Committee members for the 118th Congress, the FAA administrator nomination, and more from the HAI Government Affairs team.
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Welcomes Republican Members
This week, Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.-06), chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee, welcomed Republican representatives in the 118th Congress to serve on the committee. Currently, there are 18 returning GOP members and 17 new ones. Ten active Republicans from the 117th Congress have been reassigned to other committees for the new session. Below are the GOP members of the T&I Committee:
Returning members: Sam Graves (R-Mo.-06), Rick Crawford (R-Ark.-01), Garret Graves (R-La.-06), Troy Nehls (R-Tex.-22), Daniel Webster (R-Fla.-11), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.-04), Scott Perry (R-Pa.-10), Jeff Van Drew (R-N.J.-02), Brian Babin (R-Tex.-36), David Rouzer (R-N.C.-07), Mike Bost (R-Ill.-12), Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.-01), Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.-02), Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.-04), Brian Mast (R-Fla.-21), Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (R-P.R.), Pete Stauber (R-Minn.-08), and Dusty Johnson (R-S.Dak.).
New members: Burgess Owens (R-Utah-04), Tracey Mann (R-Kans.-01), Derrick Van Orden (R-Wis.-03), Rudy Yakym (R-Ind.-02), Lance Gooden (R-Tex.-05), Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-Ore.-05), Aaron Bean (R-Fla.-04), Mike Collins (R-Ga.-10), Anthony D’Esposito (R-N.Y.-04), Eric Burlison (R-Mo.-07), Chuck Edwards (R-N.C.-11), John Duarte (R-Calif.-13), John James (R-Mich.-10), Mike Ezell (R-Miss.-04), Tom Kean Jr. (R-N.J.-07), Marc Molinaro (R-N.Y.-19), and Brandon Williams (R-N.Y.-22).
The committee selections aren’t official until approved by the House Republican Conference. The Democratic Party has yet to announce its T&I roster for the 118th Congress, and neither party has announced subcommittee leaders. Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.-06) is expected to be named chair of the Aviation Subcommittee if he chooses not to run for governor of Louisiana.
The T&I Committee and the Senate Commerce Committee oversee the FAA and are responsible for writing the next reauthorization bill, which will need to be passed by Sep. 30, 2023.
HAI looks forward to meeting and working with all new and returning committee members to develop solutions that will help advance the general aviation industry for the benefit of society.
Schumer Announces Support for Washington as Pick to Lead FAA
This week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced his support for Phil Washington, chief executive of Denver International Airport (KDEN), to lead the FAA. Schumer stated that between hundreds of flight cancellations during the holidays and last week’s NOTAM computer system meltdown, the FAA is in urgent need of a Senate-confirmed leader. The Senate Commerce Committee has yet to announce a hearing date.
Concerns about Washington’s nomination started in September of last year, when GOP senators emphasized his lack of aviation experience to fill the nation’s top aviation job. Criticism only grew after Washington was linked to a corruption case in Los Angeles County. Further complicating his path to securing the nomination, current statute prohibits the FAA administrator position from being held by an individual who previously served in and retired from the US military. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), the new ranking member for the Senate Commerce Committee, and other Senate Republicans have continued to voice concerns regarding this requirement and Washington’s 24 years in the army.
In addition to Senate confirmation, because of his military status (noncivilian)Washington would need a waiver, passed by both chambers, to lead the agency. Securing support for a waiver in the Republican-controlled House may prove to be a challenge for the nominee. Nevertheless, the White House and Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg continue to call for Washington’s nomination.
HAI Attends AAAE’s Aviation Issues Conference
Last week, HAI attended the American Association of Airport Executives’ 37th Annual Aviation Issues Conference, held in Maui, Hawaii. The event brought together top-level government and industry officials to discuss key aviation issues in depth and to chart the course for this year’s agenda on Capitol Hill. In attendance was HAI President and CEO James Viola, who took the opportunity to directly engage and exchange ideas with key decision makers, industry leaders, and officials from the Departments of Transportation and Homeland Security regarding aviation and aerospace policy and technology as well as the future of the US and international aviation systems. Viola also participated in a panel discussion about the vertical flight industry’s future and moderated a panel on aviation safety.
While in Hawaii, Viola and HAI VP of Government Affairs Cade Clark held an in-person, quarterly HAI Hawaii member meeting. Hawaii operators gathered to discuss issues important to their businesses, including safety, community compatibility, training, and workforce development. HAI holds two in-person quarterly meetings and two online quarterly meetings a year for its Hawaii members.
FAA Amends Notice on Charting Private Airports
In September 2022, the FAA released a charting notice stating that as of November 2022, visual flight rules (VFR) aeronautical charts would no longer refer to emergency value in private airport charting. Only private airports with landmark value would be retained and charted beyond Feb. 23, 2023.
This notice was of serious concern to HAI and many other aviation groups because removing private airports from charts could pose safety risks to VFR pilots. Seventy-five percent of US airports are private airfields and are indispensable to the general aviation infrastructure. Including the location of these private airports in the charts is of tremendous safety value to pilots facing unplanned weather or mechanical issues by alerting them to potential safe landing areas.
However, on Jan. 10, 2023, the FAA edited its notice, announcing that, effective Nov. 3, 2022, VFR aeronautical charts would remove all references to emergency use at private airports. The amended notice called for the deletion of the words “emergency or” from VFR aeronautical chart legends in reference to private airports. Further, the FAA change noted, “Beyond December 29, 2022, the effective date, private airports will continue to be charted for their landmark value. Landmark value will continue to be determined using the same, multiple criteria prior to the removal of ‘emergency or’ text from the legend.”
With this change, VFR aeronautical chart users shouldn’t see a notable change to private airports depicted on VFR charts. The private airport evaluation criteria for emergency use are as follows:
- Airport operational status
- Airspace determination
- Length and surface of runway(s)
- Owner’s charting preference
- Satellite imagery
- National Airspace System Resource (NASR) remarks specific to the airport
- Airport significance relative to surrounding chart features.