04.19.16

Senate Approves FAA Bill with Gardner Provisions

Washington, DC – The U.S. Senate today approved the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act, which included several provisions introduced by Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.

“Our nation’s airspace is one of the most important economic drivers we have in the movement of passengers and cargo. Maintaining our aviation infrastructure is critical as communities in Colorado and across the country continue to realize the full economic potential that access to the airspace brings,” said Gardner. “That’s why I’m pleased this bill includes several provisions that would lead to the enhancement of our airport infrastructure, including much-needed changes to the Airport Improvement Program.”

“The bill includes language I pushed for to allow for critical improvements to be made to Pena Boulevard, the primary access road connecting DIA with the rest of Colorado. The legislation also contains language I championed that builds on a successful pilot program for virtual towers and ensures these towers will be eligible for funding once certified by the FAA. This is important because virtual towers will allow for small and medium sized airports, like the Fort Collins-Loveland Airport in Colorado, to be able to offer commercial service in an economically viable and sustainable way. Lastly, it includes important certification reforms that will improve the processing of new aircraft designs and modifications at the FAA,” Gardner added. “Just as the Senate passed comprehensive education reform and the first long-term highway bill to fix our roads and bridges in years, I’m proud that we came together once again to approve this important legislation that includes Colorado priorities and promotes safety, strong infrastructure, and innovation.”

Background:

  • In June of 2014, at the request of Gardner’s office when he was a Member of the House of Representatives, the Department of Transportation Inspector General issued a report stating that the Denver FAA office had one of the longest waitlists in the country for certification approvals and that only 6 certifications had been issued in over four years. While the IG has since reported that changes have been made at the Denver office, this situation pointed to the need to improve and streamline the certification process and the Senate-approved FAA bill includes those reforms. 
  • Gardner secured several provisions in the reauthorization legislation before it passed out of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee and was sent to the Senate floor:
  • Pena Boulevard Fix – Requires the FAA to allow airports to pay for the costs of maintaining and improving an airport access road on a proportional level based on the level of airport traffic on the road.  
  • Increased UAS Penalties Increases penalties on individuals operating drones who violate restricted areas. 
  • Certification Reforms – Includes widely supported certification reforms to address long processing times. 
  • Remote Tower Program – Continues the pilot program for remote towers utilized by Fort Collins-Loveland Airport and includes language stating that remote tower technology is eligible for Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds upon FAA certification. 

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Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy. 

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