Sen. Cruz Celebrates Presidential Signing of Bipartisan 'FAA Reauthorization Act of 2024'

With overwhelming bipartisan support in both chambers, historic investment in America’s aviation system is now law
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-Texas) released the following statement after President Biden signed the bipartisan FAA Reauthorization Act of 2024, legislation Sen. Cruz authored along with Commerce Committee Chairwoman Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) that represents a historic investment in the safety, efficiency, and innovation of America’s aviation system.  

“I am immensely proud that our bipartisan FAA reauthorization – which received overwhelming support from lawmakers in both parties – is now law. Our legislation will make flying faster, easier, and more enjoyable for passengers while improving airports and air traffic control so flying is even safer.
“This legislation delivers significant wins for Texas and the hundreds of thousands of Texans who work in aerospace.

"For instance, the law expands the number of direct flights into and out of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. This hotly contested matter, which I fought to deliver, means direct access to our nation’s capital for San Antonians.

"The new law also establishes an advanced aviation center for testing and approving futuristic aircraft, like air taxis, that Texas is well-positioned to host,” said the Senator.

The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2024 represents a bicameral, bipartisan agreement that will meaningfully address the challenges facing the aviation industry that have become abundantly clear to the traveling public over the last year. Key provisions of this legislation include:
  • Requiring cockpit voice recorders on commercial aircraft to record for 25 hours, allowing the FAA and NTSB to better investigate aircraft incidents and prevent future ones. The FAA will also install new surface surveillance equipment at certain airports to reduce the risk of near-misses.
  • Codifying the recommended best practices on aircraft manufacturing from an independent expert panel to address quality issues currently roiling commercial aviation. These best practices include issuing a public notice if a manufacturer requests an exemption from certification rules and revising the model for aviation safety inspectors.
  • Safety improvements for ramp workers around plane engines.
  • Requiring airlines to seat families together.
  • Creating a pilot program for entities that train veterans for civil aviation careers.
  • Making it easier to accept drone delivery of essential medicines.
  • Directing the FAA to complete the Beyond the Visual Line of Site rulemaking, which will expand drone delivery and other drone operations throughout Texas.
  • A thorough review of medical and mental health protocols for pilots.
The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2024 contains provisions that make for a safer and more convenient travel experience for consumers and help grow Texas’ aviation sector. These provisions include:
  • A historic $4 billion per year in funding for airport infrastructure projects that will boost capacity and safety at airports across Texas and the nation.
  • Five additional exemptions to statutory “perimeter rule,” allowing new round-trip flights to and from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) from locations previously excluded from direct flights. This will provide the ability for a direct flight from San Antonio to DCA, delivering a more convenient travel experience for members of the military traveling from Joint Base San Antonio, business travelers, and tourists.
  • Directing the FAA to hire the maximum number of air traffic controllers. Terminal Radar Approach Control Facilities (TRACON) for both the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas have been understaffed in recent years, contributing to delayed flights and tower closures.
  • Creating a Center for Advanced Aviation Technologies for  aviation technologies like electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft like air taxis. This center would test these technologies and oversee the development and related activities of testing corridors and other flight demonstration zones. Importantly, the Center would also work to facilitate partnerships between industry, academia, and related government agencies to further unleash innovative aviation technologies.
  • An adjustment to the bill’s discretionary airport improvement program funding structures that would boost McKinney National Airport’s efforts to become the third primary commercial airport in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area. While the terminal expansion will be primarily financed at the local level, the bill expands McKinney National’s eligibility for up to $20 million in federal funding.
  • Reforms aimed at better integrating commercial space activities into the national airspace system to assist launch providers in navigating complicated airspace, a boost for Texas’ thriving commercial space industry.
  • Provisions that could benefit Texas universities seeking to develop aviation-related curriculum and workforce development programs such as Texas Women’s University and Angelo State University.
  • Reforms to FAA’s State Block Grant program to level the playing field – putting Texas on par with non-Block Grant states.
  • Funding that will improve the operational capabilities for the FAA’s UAS test range managed by Texas A&M and located in Corpus Christi, Texas.
  • A measure addressing the recent devastating wildfires in Texas by directing the FAA to develop a plan to better integrate the use of unmanned aircraft systems to help fight wildfires.
  • A provision that will streamline approvals to allow for more drone operations for offshore oil and gas facilities in international waters.
  • New guidance directing the FAA to establish a process to enable test and demonstration flights for hypersonic and supersonic aircraft making it possible that a test corridor could be established in Texas.
Requirements for the FAA to install Terminal Flight Data Manager (TFDM), an air traffic control technology that will help address the congestion on the airport surface due to the increase in commercial air traffic nationwide, improve ATC controller awareness and efficiency, and eliminate paper flight strips, at the top 89 airports within four years.

Texas airports set to receive the TFDM technology include IAH, AUS, HOU, DFW, DAL, SAT.

The FAA Reauthorization Act increased the number of installations from 49 to 89, adding Corpus Christi and Midland airports.

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