Press Releases

Bipartisan FAA bill improves service & safety for passengers

~ Senator Warner successfully worked for compromise to limit additional West Coast-DC slots ~

Feb 06 2012

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) praised today’s Senate passage of a bipartisan, four-year reauthorization for the Federal Aviation Administration that will improve airline service and safety for travelers. The compromise legislation, H.R. 658, allows airports to move forward on critical improvement projects, gives FAA tools to modernize the nation’s outdated, radar-based air traffic control system, and authorizes eight additional daily round trip flights from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport to the West Coast. The overwhelmingly bipartisan vote in the Senate this afternoon was 75-20.

Since the last long-term FAA authorization bill expired in 2007, the FAA has run under 23 short-term authorizations, the latest of which is set to expire on Feb. 17th. This compromise legislation includes the following:

  • Long-Term FAA Bill Makes Investments That Will Create or Protect More Than 300,000 Jobs. The final FAA bill includes $3.35 billion annually through Fiscal Year 2015 for airport infrastructure grants, which is projected to create or protect as many as 300,000 jobs. 

  • Long-Term FAA Bill Will Provide Stability And Give FAA The Tools to Modernize. The final compromise  gives the FAA the long-term stability and resources it needs to accelerate the implementation of the GPS-based navigation technology known as NextGen. It sets performance standards and deadlines, requiring NextGen implementation at the nation’s largest airports by 2015.

  • The long-term FAA Bill also includes compromise language that authorizes eight additional round-trip flights from the West Coast to Washington D.C. beyond the 1,250 mile perimeter limit at Reagan Washington National Airport. Originally, there were proposals to add as many as 75 additional flights each day – a proposal which could have overwhelmed Reagan National’s parking, baggage and TSA capacity, and would have negatively impacted the region’s two other public airports, Dulles International and Thurgood Marshall Baltimore/Washington International. Sen. Warner successfully worked with the Commerce Committee and other interested Senate colleagues to authorize a modest increase in flights to West Coast destinations while also maintaining the overall balance among the region’s airports. With this compromise, airlines will be required to discontinue four existing short-haul flights, resulting in a net increase of only four additional flights out of Reagan National.  

“The FAA bill we passed today provides money for airport construction and expansion and the resources needed for upgrading air traffic control systems to use GPS technology,” Senator Warner said. “The bill also puts in place a rational compromise on flights out of Reagan National that supports the National Capital Region’s business model for Reagan National, Dulles and BWI, and acknowledges the investments we are making at these airports.”

“We are very grateful for the extensive effort put forth by Senator Warner and the entire Congressional delegation to advance this important aviation legislation and to advocate for Reagan National and Dulles International as well as the entire Metropolitan Region,“ said Jack Potter, President and CEO of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.