HAI’s Government Affairs team on Congress’s return to session this month, the FAA’s new aviation safety leader, HAI’s new Western US regional representative, and more news of the week.
Congress Returns to Session
September has arrived, marking the return of Congress to session. The US Senate is set to reconvene from recess on Sep. 5, while the House of Representatives is scheduled to resume its activities on Sep. 12.
The month holds significant stakes, particularly leading up to Sep. 30, the date by which Congress must act to continue funding the federal government to avert a shutdown Oct. 1.
As discussed in earlier issues of Advocating for You, the Senate has yet to pass its version of the FAA reauthorization bill. Originally set for June, the markup session for the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee’s bill faced delays and remains unscheduled. (During a markup session, committee members study the bill and may suggest amendments on which it votes before reporting the bill to the chamber.) The Senate deadlock stems from significant disputes, primarily centered on pilot training and flight extensions at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (KDCA).
In contrast, the House successfully passed its version of the bill with a decisive 351-to-69 vote.
As the Sep. 30 deadline approaches, lawmakers in both chambers must resolve differences in their bills and present a unified version to President Biden. The Senate’s slow progress makes a short-term extension more likely. In this crucial time, HAI remains engaged with committees in both chambers on a path forward for FAA reauthorization legislation that retains the hard-fought wins that were included in the House-passed version of the bill.
In addition, Congress is tasked with passing crucial government funding legislation by Sep. 30. Among HAI’s priorities is the transportation funding bill, which holds significant importance to vertical aviation. However, the House Republican majority is headed for a clash with the Senate because lawmakers in both chambers are moving forward with different versions of a comprehensive package, a package that must be enacted into law by Sep. 30 to avoid a government shutdown.
While achieving a continued resolution presents challenges, it is a necessary step. The occurrence of another government shutdown would be highly undesirable. During a shutdown, federal agencies are unable to allocate funds or spend money, and numerous federal employees are instructed not to report for duty.
FAA Announces New Aviation Safety Leader
After fulfilling the role for a year, David Boulter has been officially designated as the FAA’s permanent associate administrator for aviation safety. This appointment comes as part of a series of leadership changes within the agency.
These recent leadership transitions have sparked criticism from lawmakers and industry groups. They contend that the FAA’s pace in addressing prominent vacancies has resulted in operational and certification approval gaps. The cumulative effect is amplified by the ongoing challenges faced by the aviation industry.
Amid the backdrop of resurgent air travel landscape, a surge in near-miss incidents, shortages in air traffic controller staffing, the implementation of new drone-related regulations, and various other pressing matters, lawmakers and aviation groups are increasingly concerned by the persistent leadership void.
The White House has yet to publicly disclose its choice for a permanent leader to oversee the FAA.
HAI to Attend NASAO 2023 Conference
Katia Veraza, manager of government affairs at HAI, will be attending the 92nd Annual Convention & Trade Show of the National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO), which takes place Sep. 9–13 in Rogers, Arkansas. The convention’s agenda will delve into the various issues affecting aviation across the United States.
The NASAO show garners attendance from influential decision makers and key figures in the aviation sector. Given their roles in the aviation marketplace, this event holds significant importance for HAI annually. Attendees span a diverse spectrum, ranging from directors of state aeronautics departments to industry stakeholders. Their collective presence at the conference aims to foster discussions and engender innovative solutions within the aviation industry.
For HAI members planning to attend the show, we would love to connect with you at the event. Feel free to reach out to [email protected] to let us know you’ll be there. We look forward to seeing you!
Word on the Street: Chuck Street Named Western US Regional Representative for HAI
We are thrilled to announce that Chuck Street has taken on the role of Western US regional representative for HAI, starting last month.
In recent weeks, Chuck has been actively engaging with helicopter operators in Southern California. Having established connections with many of them over the years, renewing these acquaintances has been a wonderful experience for him.
Chuck’s primary objective is to understand the critical matters affecting vertical flight operators in the Western region. These times pose significant challenges to our industry, marked by surging insurance rates, the scarcity of pilots and maintenance technicians, and an intricate landscape of regulatory concerns.
During the second week of September, Chuck, accompanied by HAI Chief Government Affairs Officer Cade Clark, will be heading to Hawaii. Their mission will involve collaborating with helicopter tour operators in the state to devise and implement strategies that effectively navigate the impending regulatory landscape.
Chuck eagerly anticipates the opportunity to connect with even more HAI members. His aim is to provide support in addressing the specific challenges that weigh on them and to introduce new members to the HAI community.
If you are an HAI member in the Western United States who requires assistance, please contact Chuck at [email protected].