Congress Clears Major Aviation Bill After Delays

( – On May 15, the House passed H.R. 3935, a major aviation bill that includes provisions to help improve airline safety and ensure travel is less frustrating for customers, sending the bill to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature.

The passage of the bill, the biggest aviation bill to be approved by Congress in five years, comes after members of the House and Senate spent months deliberating over the bill, which forced four short-term extensions.

In a 387-26 vote, the House passed the bill, which will give the Federal Aviation Administration $105 billion over five years. The bill guides the policy for technology used to help planes avoid collisions on the runway, such as air taxis and drones, and requires planes to have a 25-hour cockpit recording device. It also increases air traffic controller staffing and speeds up refunds for canceled flights. Under the bill, five daily long-haul, round-trip flights will be added to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

In the new bill, approved by the Senate by a vote of 88-4 on May 9, airlines cannot charge families fees to sit together, and airlines must accept credits and vouchers issued instead of refunds for at least five years.

For airlines that violate the rules for how they treat customers, the fine will increase from $25,000 to $75,000.

While the bill requires a dashboard be created by the Department of Transportation showing the minimum seat size on every airline in the United States, it does not establish minimum seat size requirements. It also does not raise the mandatory pilot retirement age to 67.

The bill also does not include any significant provisions related to the oversight of Boeing, whose problems have continued since January when a door plug blew off mid-flight.

House Transportation Committee chair and Missouri Rep. Sam Graves called the bill “vital to our economy” and “critical to ensuring America remains the global leader in aviation.”

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