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Thune Applauds Senate Passage of FAA Reauthorization Act of 2024

The FAA reauthorization includes Thune-led priorities that improve pilot training, increase rural airport funding, and bolster unmanned aircraft system airspace integration

May 9, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today issued the following statement after the Senate passed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2024, which includes key Thune-led provisions:

“South Dakota and the nation depend on a safe, efficient, and robust national aviation system,” said Thune. “This critical legislation would help strengthen aviation safety, address the pilot shortage, and improve airport infrastructure – all of which would contribute to a better experience for the traveling public. The bill also includes key provisions to improve rural air service programs, establish a new regulatory framework for the integration of drones, and improve aircraft accessibility.”


Key provisions included:

  1. The Increasing Competitiveness for American Drones Act: Bipartisan legislation that would streamline the approval process for beyond visual line of sight drone flights and clears the way for drones to be used for commercial transport of goods across the country – making sure that the U.S. remains competitive globally in a growing industry increasingly dominated by competitors like China.


  1. The MOBILE Act: Bipartisan legislation that would improve safety and accessibility for individuals who use mobility aids to help ensure their travel experience is as smooth and hassle-free as possible.


  1. The Aviation Workforce Development Act: Bipartisan legislation that would address aviation workforce shortages by providing new training pathways to help produce highly qualified aviation maintenance workers is a sensible way to overcome challenges and expand the nation’s aviation workforce.


  1. Establishing an enhanced qualification program (EQP) for prospective pilots: EQP is a structured program meant to integrate several benchmarks prospective pilots must meet – including receiving their multiengine and type ratings – into one comprehensive curriculum that prepares them for entry into air carrier new hire training. This provision would increase the accessibly and quality of training for prospective pilots, which is crucial at a time when demand for qualified pilots is soaring.   


  1. Raising the Airport Improvement Grant limit for terminal improvements for non-hub and small-hub airports.


  1. Streamlining the approval of recreational drone operations.


  1. Allowing communities to receive multiple Small Community Air Service Development Program grants to improve and expand flight options.