US Senate Passes Aviation Safety, Consumer Bill

US Senate Passes Aviation Safety, Consumer Bill

US Senate Passes Aviation Safety, Consumer Bill

The U.S. Senate has passed a comprehensive aviation bill late Thursday, aimed at enhancing air traffic control staffing, preventing runway incidents, and expediting refunds for canceled flights.

Valued at $105 billion over five years, the measure renews the Federal Aviation Administration’s authority.

The bill, sources revealed to Excel Magazine International, bars airlines from levying fees for family seating arrangements and mandates 25-hour cockpit recording devices, an upgrade from the current two-hour standard, while instructing the FAA to deploy advanced surface technology to enhance airport safety.

The bill further introduces five daily round-trip flights at Washington National Airport and mandates airlines to honor vouchers and credits for at least five years.

This legislative push follows recent safety concerns, including near-miss incidents and the mid-air emergency involving Alaska Airlines and Boeing’s 737 MAX 9 door plug on January 5.

Anticipated for final approval by the U.S. House of Representatives next week, the bill does not include a proposed increase in the mandatory pilot retirement age to 67.

It also addresses the timely refunding of non-refundable tickets for canceled flights and raises maximum civil penalties for airline consumer violations to $75,000.

To combat a shortfall of 3,000 air traffic controllers, the legislation calls for improved staffing standards and increased recruitment of inspectors, engineers, and technical specialists.

While refraining from establishing minimum seat size requirements, Congress tasks the FAA with this responsibility and mandates the Transportation Department to develop a consumer-friendly dashboard displaying each U.S. airline’s minimum seat size.

Although the bill omits several consumer provisions advocated by the Biden administration.

Moreover, the legislation renews the National Transportation Safety Board’s authorization, augments staffing at the safety investigation agency, promotes drone integration into national airspace, and extends existing government counter-drone authority until October 1.

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