Bipartisan legislation would increase funding for FAA to provide guidance to aviation authorities around the world and improve international pilot training standards 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) joined Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) to introduce legislation to authorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to work with other countries to strengthen pilot training standards and enable the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to further enhance worldwide aviation safety and training standards.

The Foreign Civil Aviation Authority Assistance and Capacity-Building Act authorizes $10 million a year for Fiscal Years 2021-2026 for the FAA to provide technical assistance to civil aviation authorities around the world to improve pilot training in critical areas like automation and human-machine interface. This authorization would more than double the funding available to the FAA to provide these capacity building programs. It also authorizes up to $2 million a year for Fiscal Years 2021-2026 to help establish a working group at ICAO – a specialized agency of the United Nations that sets international civil aviation requirements and standards – on raising international pilot training standards.

“Following the tragic airplane crashes of the Boeing 737 Max in Indonesia and Ethiopia and the subsequent investigations, we must ensure that international pilot training requirements meet the highest standards to help prevent similar tragedies in the future,” Klobuchar said. “The Foreign Civil Aviation Authority Assistance and Capacity-Building Act will help improve international pilot training and enhance the safety of foreign air transportation systems by helping the U.S. work with our international partners to develop important safety standards for the aviation workforce and industry.” 

“This legislation will enable the FAA to help strengthen pilot training in other countries,” Cantwell said. “This new work on pilot training standards at the International Civil Aviation Organization will raise the safety bar across the globe.”

“Multiple reports regarding the 737 MAX accidents highlighted concerns about the human-machine interface in the cockpit,” said Moran. “This bipartisan legislation would provide resources to help establish the International Civil Aviation Organization’s working group created to implement recommendations on human-machine interface and advance our aviation safety. In addition, this legislation would allow for increased engagement by the FAA to promote collaboration and data sharing on an international level. We must continue to advance aviation safety in a holistic manner and ensure tragic accidents like the 737 MAX in Ethiopia and Indonesia do not happen again. I look forward to our continued work on this important issue and encourage my colleagues to support this legislation to improve aviation safety.”

“Since the tragic accidents of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, Congress has held—and continues to hold—hearings examining what occurred and how we can make sure such incidents do not happen again. One of the concerns in the wake of these recent crashes has been the usage of automation in the cockpit and pilot training on those systems. Our legislation builds upon the work the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been doing with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the in-country technical assistance the FAA provides to other countries to improve aviation safety,” Capito said.

Klobuchar has been a leader in the fight to improve safety in the aviation industry and has long been an advocate for aviation safety.

This week, at a Commerce Committee hearing titled, “Examining the Federal Aviation Administration’s Oversight of Aircraft Certification,” Klobuchar questioned the Federal Aviation Administrator Stephen Dickson about her concerns with the Department of Transportation’s Special Committee report failing to address the key concerns with manufacturers being delegated too much authority over the certification of their own aircraft. Klobuchar also expressed concerns about the reports that found that one-third of Boeing employees felt “undue pressure” to obtain safety approvals by federal regulators for Boeing’s commercial aircraft. 

 In March, after a Senate Commerce Committee hearing where Klobuchar raised concerns about Frontier Airlines’ proposal to charge passengers more for safer seats during the pandemic, Frontier announced that the airline would drop their proposed fee.

In October 2019 at a Commerce Committee Hearing titled, “Aviation Safety and the Future of Boeing’s 737 MAX,” Klobuchar urged Boeing officials to evaluate the findings of the investigations into recent crashes and improve the safety measures in the U.S. commercial aviation industry.

In April 2019, Klobuchar joined Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to introduce the Safety is Not for Sale Act, which requires airlines to adopt additional safety features and ensures that all optional safety equipment is provided to airlines at no additional cost.

In March 2019, Klobuchar and Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) reintroduced the Safe Skies Act, which would ensure that America’s cargo plane pilots have the same rest requirements as passenger pilots.

In October 2018, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2018 was signed into law, providing needed certainty for the aviation industry while enhancing consumer protections and passenger safety. Klobuchar included a key amendment to the legislation to provide a consistent level of consumer protections regardless of where tickets are purchased. In 2012, Klobuchar included language in the FAA reauthorization bill prioritizing aviation related construction projects in cold-weather states to accommodate their limited construction season.