As chair of the Commerce Committee, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) stated that the bill will increase FAA safety inspectors on factory floors and air traffic controllers in towers. Additionally, airlines will be required to improve customer service by providing mandatory refunds for flight disruptions and preventing extra charges for families to sit together. Despite opposition from local lawmakers who fear increased delays, the committee agreed to add five additional slots for long-distance flights at Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA).
Senators Mark Warner and Ted Cruz expressed differing opinions on the bill. While Warner expressed disappointment with the addition of slots at DCA, stating that it was a bad idea, Sen. Ted Cruz believed that the legislation would help ensure the FAA’s core mission of keeping the flying public safe. He also stated that it charts a course to address aviation industry challenges and modernize FAA operations while nurturing innovation in air taxis, hypersonic planes, and unmanned aircraft.
The bill’s advancement comes after high-profile incidents involving aircraft safety, including an Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9 flight that experienced an “explosive decompression” last month.