WASHINGTON -  U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) announced that several of her aviation priorities passed the Senate today as a part of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2024. The bipartisan legislation includes provisions Klobuchar pushed for to address aviation workforce shortages, require airlines to allow children to sit together with their family members at no additional charge, improve runway safety, improve air traffic control staffing and more. The legislation now heads to the House of Representatives for a final vote. 

“Americans deserve to have air travel that is safe, dependable, and efficient,” said Klobuchar. “I secured several provisions in the FAA Reauthorization to improve aviation by boosting workforce training, modernizing technology, strengthening consumer protection, and updating safety standards. This legislation will ensure our transportation system is on the cutting edge.”

Klobuchar successfully included:

  • The Aviation Workforce Development and Recruitment Act, Klobuchar’s bipartisan bill with Senators Jerry Moran’s (R-KS), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), John Thune (R-SD), and others, to address aviation workforce shortages by boosting resources to help recruit and train pilots, aviation manufacturing workers, and mechanics.
  • The Families Fly Together Act, Klobuchar’s bill with Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), Leader Schumer,  and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), to require airlines to allow children to sit together with their family members on flights at no additional charge. Under current law, parents who want to confirm a seat next to their children – including young infants – are often required to pay extra fees for advance seating, purchase more expensive tickets, or simply rely on the kindness of strangers. This will help keep kids safe while traveling and provide parents with much-needed peace of mind.
  • The Air Traffic Controllers Hiring Act, Klobuchar’s bill with Senator Braun (R-ID) to help address air traffic controller shortages and improve the safety of our airways. The bill requires the FAA to conduct maximum hiring of air traffic controllers at the FAA Academy, which is equivalent to approximately 1,800 individuals at the Academy per year.
  • Provisions to improve runway safety and prevent runway incursions. These provisions direct the FAA to ensure commercial planes are equipped with state-of-the-art technology that would nearly eliminate the risk of runway collisions. These include technologies to detect nearby planes on the runway and alert pilots to help them avoid collisions, as well as technologies that help pilots determine the required landing distance for a safe landing.
  • A provision with Senators Duckworth, Lujan, and Warnock to require the FAA to revise and implement improved air traffic control staffing standards to better address staffing shortages and meet increasing demand.
  • A provision with Senator Cantwell to extend eligible expenses for 529 plans, allowing them to be used to pay for flight and aviation maintenance programs certified by the FAA. A 529 plan is a tax-advantaged account that can be used to pay for the qualified education expenses including tuition, room and board.

Last year, Klobuchar’s bipartisan legislation to help prevent FAA system outages was signed into law. The NOTAM Improvement Act requires the FAA to establish a task force to strengthen the resiliency and cybersecurity of the NOTAM system, which alerts pilots of safety and location hazards on flight routes. The law now requires the FAA to upgrade the NOTAM system and create a backup system by September 2024. The bill followed the January 2023 NOTAM system outage that grounded flights nationwide, and was sponsored in the House by Rep. Stauber (R-MN) and Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA).

 

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