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Five-Year FAA Reauthorization Includes Lipinski Provisions That Will Protect Passengers and Help Reduce the Impact of Airport Noise

Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-3) released the following statement after the House of Representatives approved a five-year reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA):

“The House has stepped up and passed a five-year reauthorization of the FAA with the Senate expected to follow soon.  This bill is a compromise so it is far from perfect, but it gives this essential agency some stability and direction while including a number of wins for the traveling public, residents around airports, and airline workers.  It continues investment in the nation’s airports and aviation facilities – albeit not as much as I would like to see – and it will help maintain the safest aviation system in the world. 

“While the final bill doesn't do what I am seeking in my Airline Consumer Protection Act, I was able to include several key provisions.  One provision requires the Government Accountability Office to quantify all the costs to passengers that resulted from every airline computer failure since 2014, including the one that happened last night with Delta.  I am hopeful this report will spur Congress to take further action to assure better passenger protections.  Other provisions I authored will improve transparency in ticket sales and help develop the aviation workforce’s next generation.

“Locally, the final bill includes a number of tools that can help lessen the noise heard by area residents from planes using Midway and O'Hare.  This list of steps includes studies reviewing allowable decibel standards, the impact of continual noise on human health, and the relationship between noise and aircraft speeds.  Another provision requires airport operators to submit revised noise maps to the FAA prior to proposed significant changes (like adding a runway), allows nearby communities or airport operators to ask the FAA to examine alternatives when designing new departure routes and directs them to take such requests into consideration, tasks the FAA with better public outreach when redesigning airspace, and creates a regional noise ombudsmen to listen to residents about the impact of airplane noise.

“The reauthorization bill also changes how Passenger Facility Charges (PFCs) can be used, which could help finance multi-modal airport connections, like the on-airport segment of Elon Musk’s Chicago Express Loop, a proposed high-speed rail that would connect Chicago's Loop to O'Hare Airport.  PFCs are a fee of up to $4.50 that almost all airline travelers in the United States pay in their ticket price.  Efforts to increase the cap on fees in the final bill were not successful.

“Another of my amendments authorizes $5 million a year to provide grants to schools, airlines, trade associations, governments, tech schools, and more to promote the development of the aviation technician workforce.  Unfortunately, the bill does not include language which would prevent airlines from claiming operating bases in countries that lack protections for airline workers.  This is a fight I will continue to protect American jobs.”