WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) on Thursday was happy to announce the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee’s approval of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act.
The legislation reauthorizes the FAA and the Essential Air Service program (EAS), and gives long-term funding and policy certainty to airports across Colorado, including the San Luis Valley Regional Airport in Alamosa
As Colorado’s first senator to sit on the senate’s Science, Commerce, and Transportation Committee in more than 40 years, Gardner said he was proud “to advance Colorado’s interests and put our state’s priorities first.”
The senator has been an advocate for the EAS program as many rural areas across Colorado depend on it. Gardner sent a letter to the Appropriations Committee asking them to continue funding the program and last year sent a letter to the Department of Transportation in support of continued EAS for Alamosa’s airport.
Gardner said on Thursday, “Today, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee worked in a bipartisan fashion to approve the FAA Reauthorization Act that included six amendments I authored along with multiple provisions I helped champion that will benefit Colorado. Whether it’s prioritizing helicopter safety, providing funding for airport security equipment, or reducing regulations on Colorado’s airports, the senate showed once again it is able to work across party lines to get things done for the American people.”
The following Gardner-led and Gardner co-led amendments were passed out of committee and are now included in the bill.
· Gardner Amendment 1 – This amendment would make remote towers utilized by airports eligible for the Contract Tower Program if the technology is certified by FAA. The base text of the bill also makes the program eligible for Airport Improvement Program funding if the technology is certified at Gardner’s request.
· Gardner-Hassan Amendment (Gardner Amendment 2 ) – This amendment makes clear that Congress wants the FAA to continue their feasibility assessment into making available the 1300-1350MHz band for non-federal use. Gardner has long been focused on trying to open up more federal spectrum for commercial use in order to help ease the load on current commercial spectrum resources to deliver faster and more reliable service and products to consumers.
· Gardner Amendment 3 – This amendment requires the FAA to expeditiously certify retrofit kits on helicopters to improve fuel system crash worthiness. After a Flight for Life helicopter crashed in Frisco, CO in 2015, it was determined the death of the pilot was not due to the crash itself but from the fire afterwards because the helicopter lacked a crash resistant fuel system. Gardner has worked with his colleagues from both parties towards making it possible for every helicopter in the United States has a crash resistant fuel system to prevent a similar tragedy from happening in the future.
· Peters-Gardner Amendment 1 – This amendment would expand the eligibility for airports to use their Airport Improvement Program (AIP) dollars to install CCTV security equipment. Providing additional options to airports to meet their security needs is important, particularly in light of security concerns at airports across the world – notably Brussels and Fort Lauderdale.
· Sullivan-Gardner Amendment 2 (as modified) – This amendment would limit the FAA’s ability to regulate non-aeronautical property at airports that is not relevant to aircraft safety.
· Lee-Gardner Amendment 3 – This amendment would require the FAA to issue rulemaking related to the testing and operation of supersonic aircraft. Companies pursuing supersonic technology need long-term regulatory certainty from the FAA that will allow their designs to move forward so long as they are safe and meet existing standards for noise.