Signs The FAA Modernization And Reform Act Of 2012 (H.R. 658)
By Mike Mitchell
February 15, 2012 - On Tuesday President Barack Obama
signed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012
(H.R. 658) which will modernize the nation's aviation
system. The law will provide $63.4 billion in FAA
funding over four years, including about $11 billion
toward the modernization air traffic control system.
This bill will allow the FAA to rebuild its air traffic
control system to the next generation technology which
will include switching from radar to a GPS air traffic
control system. The law will open up the skies to
unmanned drones by September 2015.
John Mica, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee sad, "This critical effort to shift from our antiquated air traffic control technology to a GPS-based system will improve air traffic efficiency and safety, reduce fuel burn and pollution from aircraft, and bring costs down for consumers."
president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association,
Paul Rinaldi, praised the new law. "This new technology will
help reduce delays, give controllers better tools with which to
perform their jobs even more efficiently and provide a platform
for further technological and safety enhancements."
Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations, which represents over
28,000 commercial airline pilots, applauded the passage of an
FAA Reauthorization Bill, ?While still trying to understand how
exempting the most fatigued pilot group, the all cargo pilot
from the new Flight Duty and Rest Regulations enhances aviation
safety, we are now faced with battery regulation that doesn?t
adequately safeguard our cargo pilots,? said Captain Carl
Kuwitzky, president of CAPA.
prevents the FAA from mandating tighter controls on lithium
batteries beyond International Civil Aviation Organization
(ICAO) Technical Instructions unless U.S. or foreign
air-accident investigators produce ?a credible report? that
lithium batteries ?substantially contributed? to an aircraft
Aeronautical Repair Station Association witch represents repair
stations and the airlines is happy to see the rewrite of the law
which will not require overseas maintenance facilities to drug
and alcohol testing of their employees and not faced with
biannual inspections. ?The earlier versions of the bill would
have added new layers of bureaucratic oversight and increased
costs for repair stations and airlines with no improvement to
Air Line Pilots
Association (ALPA) stated ?While ALPA would have preferred that the
extraneous provision regarding National Mediation Board elections had
not been included in the FAA reauthorization, a compromise agreement was
necessary to allow the bill to move forward. The FAA reauthorization
signed by President Obama protects the National Mediation Board rule
change, which ensures that only actual votes cast in a representation
election are counted. The law does not include any reference to
decertification or judicial review nor will it change the way ALPA
conducts its elections.?
reauthorization in summary provides:
NextGen ? U.S. Air Transportation Modernization, establishes deadlines
for adopting existing NextGen navigation and surveillance technology and
mandates development of precision navigational procedures at the
nation?s 35 busiest airports by 2015 .
? Enhancing Runway
Safety - Directs the FAA to develop and implement a plan to improve
runway safety by reducing the number and severity of runway incursions
and requires a plan to develop and install a system to alert pilots and
controllers of potential runway incursions .
? Making Laser
Attacks on Aircraft a Federal Crime - Expressly makes shining a laser
pointer at an aircraft a federal crime, achieving a major component of
ALPA?s action plan to safeguard the skies from laser attacks on aircraft .
? Applying Flight
and Duty Time Limits to Tail-End Ferry and Maintenance Flights - Counts
flight segments to reposition aircraft that may be added to the end of a
pilot?s duty day toward flight-time limits by including Part 91 flights
in flight-time limits under FAR 121 .
? Improving Safety
of Lithium Battery Shipments by Air - Gives the U.S. Department of
Transportation the ability to regulate the air transport of lithium
metal and lithium ion batteries more stringently than the International
Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) technical instructions based on
?credible reports? of safety incidents attributable to lithium batteries .
? Continuing to
Authorize Transpacific Alternate Airports - Keeps the alternate airfield
open on Midway Island, as well as airports in the Marshall Islands,
Micronesia, and Palau, all of which are vital to safe long-range flight
Voluntary Aviation Safety Data Protections - Enhances protections for
data collected by the Aviation Safety Action Program, the Flight
Operations Quality Assurance Program, Line Operation Safety Audits, and
Safety Management Systems and voluntarily submitted to the FAA by
mandating that the data cannot be released to the public unless it is
Feasibility of Installing Flight Deck Doors or Alternatives on All-Cargo
Aircraft - Takes important action toward goal of enhancing all-cargo
safety and security by funding studies on the feasibility of adding
hardened cockpit doors or alternatives to all-cargo aircraft .
? Opposing EU
Environmental Trading Scheme for Commercial Aviation - In the
legislation, Congress made clear its sense that the European Union
should not extend its emissions-trading proposal to international civil
aviation operations without working through the International Civil
Aviation Organization .
Critical Aviation Safety Research - Directs the GAO to study the
effectiveness of the FAA?s oversight of the use of new technologies to
prevent or reduce danger from smoke in the cockpit. Supports weather
research on icing, volcanic ash, and wake vortices. Continues
authorization for research and development in areas of fire safety,
airworthiness, aircraft catastrophic failure prevention, human factors,
aeromedical, unmanned aircraft systems, Safety Management Systems,
atmospheric hazards, airspace management, propulsion and fuel systems,
and alternative jet fuel .
? Expanding IRA
Rollover Options for Airline Employees During Bankruptcy - Expands
choices for qualified airline employees who receive payments during
airline bankruptcies to allow the funds to be considered an IRA rollover
President Obama signed H.R.
3801, the Ultralight Aircraft Smuggling Prevention Act of 2012, in the
Oval Office. This bill was the last piece of legislation that former
Representative Gabrielle Giffords sponsored and voted on in the U.S.
House of Representatives. Vice President Joe Biden, former
Representative Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly attended the signing
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