LoBiondo Praises Congressional Passage of Long-Term FAA Authorization with New Facilities, Increased Research Role for South Jersey’s Technical Center

Sep 26, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Congressman Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-02), Chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee, today applauded passage of a five-year authorization of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorities and programs. The House voted 398 to 23, sending the bill to the Senate for a vote before Sunday’s deadline.

“Today’s passage of a five-year FAA reauthorization demonstrates that good, bipartisan legislation can still advance in Congress despite these polarizing times. This bill ensures long-term stability at the FAA while advancing the nation’s aviation interests and safety in the skies. It will allow critical research programs to continue uninterrupted while ensuring our FAA Technical Center has a leading role in developing, testing and deploying advanced aviation technologies in the 21st Century,” said LoBiondo. “Protecting the work of South Jersey’s FAA Technical Center and promoting its 3,500 employees has been my top priority as Chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee.”

To benefit the FAA Technical Center in Egg Harbor Township, the legislation:

  • Additional Research Facilities - Authorizes millions of dollars in federal funding for additional facilities at the Tech Center including an infrastructure sustainment/cyber lab and the National Air Space (NAS) Priority 1 building:
  • Codification in Federal Code – Codified the South Jersey facility to ensure that the Tech Center remains a critical component of the FAA’s research and development efforts; and,
  • Integrated Cyber Testbed - Requires the FAA to develop an integrated cyber testbed to validate Air Traffic Control (ATC) modernization technologies at the Tech Center.

Some of the specific research programs in which the FAA Technical Center would be expected to have a role in executing are as follows:

  • Certification of New Air Navigation Facilities for Unmanned Aircraft and other Aircraft – FAA to establish procedures for issuing air navigation facility certificates for operators of Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) for unmanned aircraft operations.
  • Unmanned Aircraft Test Ranges – FAA to develop and permit flights of unmanned aircraft equipped with sense-and-avoid and beyond line of sight systems.
  • Update of FAA Comprehensive Plan – FAA to develop a concept of operations for the integration of unmanned aircraft into the national airspace system.
  • Review of FAA Strategic Cybersecurity Plan – FAA to review the comprehensive and strategic framework of the FAA’s cybersecurity principles and policies.
  • Aviation Fuel – FAA shall determine that an unleaded aviation gasoline qualifies as a replacement and identifies the aircraft and engines that are eligible for use. 

“Prior to today’s vote, the Aviation Subcommittee under my chairmanship conducted more than 200 industry stakeholder meetings and hearings to examine every aspect of the U.S. aviation system. I applaud my colleagues for working cooperatively on a product we can all be proud to support to help ensure America maintains a safe, strong, and competitive aviation system,” concluded LoBiondo.

This legislation was crafted as a compromise between transportation leaders in the House and Senate. A number of national aviation priorities for LoBiondo were included in the final bill:

  • Review of Interagency Coordination of Counter-UAS Operations:  FAA to review the interagency coordination procedures and standards for authorized federal C-UAS activity, increasing efforts between federal agencies to protect critical infrastructure, such as airports or nuclear power plants, from rogue drones.
  • Ban of Animal Transport in Overhead Bins: Following media reports of the deaths of onboard animals when placed in overhead bins of commercial airplanes, this practice will now be banned.
  • 10 Hour Rest Period for Flight Attendants: Ensures that flight attendants will have ten hours minimum rest between duty assignments to prevent flight attendant fatigue and improve aviation safety.

The current authorization for the FAA and its programs expires September 30, 2018.