U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, which has jurisdiction over the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), today praised the bipartisan passage of the five-year FAA reauthorization bill. This Thune-led legislation, the longest reauthorization since the 1980s, would reauthorize federal aviation programs to modernize airport infrastructure, improve service for the flying public, enhance safety, and boost aviation industry innovation. The bill was approved by a vote of 93-6 and now heads to the president for his signature.
“In creating new protections and enhancements for the flying public, this bill creates five years of stable policy direction for the aviation community,” said Thune. “Travelers, utilizing small and large airports, will benefit from investments in infrastructure, more efficient security screening, and the prompt return of fees for services they don’t receive. Innovators also get a needed boost from provisions enhancing the competitiveness of our aircraft manufacturers and the continued integration of unmanned aircraft into our airspace.”
Specifically for South Dakota, the FAA reauthorization:
- Includes the Essential Air Service program and the Airport Improvement Program, which ensures air service to small communities and adequate infrastructure funding for all airports.
- Directs the FAA to schedule the administrator’s review of airport construction projects for cold-weather states as early as possible, given the shorter construction seasons in states like South Dakota.
- Provides common-sense improvements to airport construction standards to make projects more affordable and get them started and completed faster.
- Provides the first-ever reauthorization of TSA, including increasing funding for the Law Enforcement Officer Reimbursement Program, which allows airports like Sioux Falls and Rapid City to staff police at security checkpoints.
- Makes TSA more passenger-friendly by requiring it to post security checkpoint wait times online and expanding PreCheck program enrollment opportunities by requiring start-to-finish online or mobile enrollment options.