Update on FAA Reauthorization
As you know, every several years Congress must renew the FAA and aviation programs. Congress has been unable to enact a reauthorization measure since the previous law expired in October 2015. Since then, Congress has passed a series of extensions to keep the FAA and aviation programs running. The current extension expires on September 30, 2018.
Last June, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed a bill to reauthorize the FAA. The Committee Democrats and one Republican opposed that bill over its controversial provision to privatize the air traffic control (ATC) system. After several months without a House vote on the bill, Chairman Shuster announced he would remove the ATC privatization provision.
The bill has now been reintroduced and no longer includes ATC privatization. That bill is scheduled for a House vote next week (week of 4/23).
In order to best represent our union’s interests, the TWU will consider taking a formal position on the bill once the final text and amendments are available for review and consideration. In the interim, we are talking regularly with congressional offices to help ensure they understand the current provisions that impact TWU members and to help protect our interests.
As the legislation progresses, we will provide updates and action alerts as needed. A summary of TWU-relevant and noteworthy provisions is included below.
Sec 136 Buy America Requirements
If DOT determines it’s necessary to waive domestic procurement requirements, the DOT must, at least 10 days before waiver takes effect, make public detailed justification and allow public notice and comment. Report annually on waivers.
Sec 202 Safety Oversight and Certification Advisory Committee
Directs DOT to create a Safety Oversight and Certification Advisory Committee to advise on issues relating to FAA safety oversight and certification programs. In accomplishing this goal, the Advisory Committee must provide guidance on FAA certification and oversight efforts; make legislative and regulatory recommendations; create recommendations for prioritizing safety rulemaking initiatives, etc. Committee members must include representatives from aviation maintenance (repair stations), labor organizations (FAA safety inspectors), and others.
Sec 231 Flight Standards Performance Objectives and Metrics
Directs DOT to establish goals related to flight standards activities and track progress toward meeting those objectives to ensure that progress is made toward, at a minimum: increasing accountability for FAA and the industry; fully implementing risk management principles; eliminating inconsistencies in regulatory interpretations and enforcement activities; improving training on oversight including auditing, among others. In fulfilling the requirements of this section, FAA must apply and track the performance metrics established by the Safety Oversight and Certification Advisory Committee created by 202 (above).
Sec 232 FAA Task Force on Flight Standards Reform
Requires FAA to create a Task Force on Flight Standards Reform to identify best practices and provide recommendations related to simplifying and streamlining flight standards regulatory processes; reorganizing Flight Standard Services to one organized by function rather than geographic region; FAA aviation safety inspector training, standards, and performance; and achieving consistent regulatory interpretations and application of oversight activities. The Task Force must include representatives of repair stations, labor unions (including FAA inspectors), among others. The Task Force must report to Congress on its findings, including best practices identified and recommendations on regulatory or legislative actions.
Sec 302 Safety Critical Staffing
Requires FAA to update the safety critical staffing model to determine the number of aviation safety inspectors needed to fulfill the safety oversight mission of FAA. The Inspector General must review this model and report to Congress on findings.
Sec 307 Cabin Evacuation
Requires FAA to review evacuation certification regarding emergency conditions, such as water impacts; procedures crewmembers use to evacuate during emergencies; and any relevant changes to passenger demographics that may affect evacuations. The review must be conducted in consultation with certain stakeholder groups, including those representing crewmembers and maintenance employees.
Sec 311 Emergency Medical Equipment on Passenger Aircraft
Directs FAA to review current regulations regarding emergency medical equipment, including first-aid kits, and update the regulations as needed.
Sec 313 Acceptance of Voluntarily Provided Safety Information
Restates the processes of the existing Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP) that workers’ voluntary disclosure of information is assumed accepted under the program; information provided but not yet reviewed by an event review committee must be identified as not having been reviewed; and disclosures not accepted by an event review committee must be rejected from ASAP.
Sec 314 Flight Attendant Duty Period Limitations and Rest Requirements
Directs DOT to modify current regulations so that flight attendants scheduled to a duty period of 14-hours or less are given a scheduled rest period of at least 10 consecutive hours. The rest period must not be reduced. Air carriers must also develop FAA-approved Fatigue Risk Management Plans that: meet the flight time and duty period limitations, and have a rest scheme that enables management of fatigue including training on how to mitigate fatigue.
Sec 316 Aviation Maintenance Industry Technical Workforce
Directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a study on maintenance workers. The study must analyze the system used by the Department of Labor to classify these workers, whether changes to that system would affect government data on these workers’ unemployment rates and wages, and whether such changes might affect projections about future workforce shortages. The study must also analyze the impact of FAA regulations governing AMT workers’ certification, testing, and education programs and whether they impact the employment levels in the industry; develop recommendations on changes to FAA regulations to meet industry needs for AMT workers; and develop better coordination between the government, educational institutions, and business to support workforce growth.
Sec 402 Cell Phone Calls Ban
Directs DOT to issue regulations prohibiting inflight cell phone calls. On-duty flight crews and flight attendants are exempt from this ban.
Sec 404 Improved Notification of Insecticide Use
Requires air carriers to disclose online that the destination country may require the air carrier to use insecticides in the aircraft cabin.
Sec 405 Advertisements and Disclosure of Fees for Passenger Air Transportation
Allows air carriers and ticket agents to advertise the base airfare if the total cost of the air transportation and government-imposed fees and taxes are clearly and separately disclosed. However, it is an unfair or deceptive practice when air carriers and ticket agents fail to include, in a fare quote selected by a consumer, a clear and prominent statement that additional fees for checked and carry-on baggage may apply, and a prominent link that directly lists those fees.
Sec 406 Involuntarily Bumping Passengers After Aircraft Boarded
Makes it an unfair or deceptive practice for an air carrier to involuntarily deplane a revenue passenger onboard an aircraft if that person is traveling on a confirmed reservation and checked-in for the flight prior to the check-in deadline.
Sec 409 Widespread Disruptions
In the event of a widespread disruption, requires an air carrier to immediately publish online a clear statement indicating whether the air carrier will provide impacted passengers accommodations, meal vouchers, sleeping facilities, or arrange for other air transportation.
Sec 410 Involuntarily Denied Boarding Compensation
Directs DOT to clarify that there are no limits on the amount of compensation air carriers may pay a passenger who is involuntarily denied boarding as a result of an oversold flight. Requires air carriers to proactively compensate such passengers instead of waiting for them to request compensation.
Sec 411 Consumer Information on Actual Flight Times
Directs DOT to study whether it’s feasible to require air carriers to disclose to consumers, upon reasonable request, the projected period between the actual wheels-off and wheels-on times for a reportable flight, and to require that air carriers display online information about the actual wheels-off and wheels-on times during the most recent calendar month for the reportable flight.
Sec 414 Passenger Rights
Directs DOT to require air carriers to submit for approval a one-page document describing the rights of passengers, including guidelines for compensation for flight delays, cancellations, mishandled baggage, voluntarily relinquished ticketed seat due to overbooking, and involuntarily denial of boarding and forced removal for whatever reason.
Sec 443 Feasibility Study on In-Cabin Wheelchair Restraint Systems
Directs DOT to study, within two years, the feasibility of in-cabin wheelchair restraint systems, and, if feasible, ways that those who use wheelchairs can be accommodated with in-cabin wheelchair restraint systems. DOT must report to Congress.
Sec 501 Review of FAA Strategic Cybersecurity Plan
Directs FAA to initiate a review within one year to assess the degree to which the current framework identifies and addresses known cybersecurity risks; review short- and long-term objectives for addressing cybersecurity; and assess coordination with aviation stakeholders to carry-out the framework.
Sec 509 Air Transportation of Lithium Cells and Batteries
Directs to DOT and other federal agencies to ensure shippers who offer lithium ion and lithium metal batteries for air transport to/from the US comply with US Hazardous Materials Regulations and ICAO Technical Instructions (TI). DOT must establish an advisory committee to facilitate communication between manufacturers, air carriers, the government and others about the safe transport of these products. Also directs DOT within 30 days to conform US regulations governing the transport of these materials with the 2015-2016 edition of the ICAO TI.
Sec 526 Aviation and Aerospace Workforce of the Future
States it’s the sense of Congress that public and private education institutions should make available information on approved programs of study and career pathways; those institutions partner with aviation and aerospace companies to promote career paths available within the industry; air carriers, repair stations and others should create apprenticeships or other mechanisms to attract young people to aviation and aerospace careers; and the government should consider the needs of those interested in the industry, the long-term personnel needs of the industry, and the role aviation plays in the national economy.
Sec 527 Future Aviation and Aerospace Workforce Study
Directs the GAO to study that identifies the factors influencing the supply of people pursuing an aviation career, and identify best practices to incentivize, recruit, and retain young people in aviation and aerospace careers. GAO shall consult with unions, industry, and federal agencies, and shall report to Congress.
Sec 530 Foreign Air Transport Under US-EU Air Transport Agreement
Prohibits DOT from issuing permits authorizing a foreign air carrier to operate under the US-EU Air Transport Agreement if concerns are raised about whether the permit would undermine labor rights. DOT may issue such a permit if it determines it won’t undermine labor standards or rights, or if conditions are included in the permit to ensure labor rights and standards are protected.
Sec 531 Training on Human Trafficking for Certain Staff
Requires air carriers to provide workers who regularly interact with passengers training to recognize and respond to potential human trafficking victims.
Sec 534 Prohibitions Against Smoking on Passenger Flights
Prohibits electronic cigarettes on flights.
Sec 539 Employee Assault Prevention and Response Plan
Requires air carriers to submit for FAA approval an Employee Assault Prevention and Response Plan relating to customer service agents developed in consultation with labor unions representing these workers. The Plan must include protocols: for reporting assaults; immediately notifying law enforcement of an assault or interference with security screening personnel; ensuring passengers involved in an assault don’t board an aircraft; and informing passengers of laws protecting employees with security clearances. Air carriers must train workers on these protocols.
Sec 540 Study on Training of Customer-Facing Air Carrier Employees
Directs DOT within 180 days to study the training received by customer-facing air carrier employees with respect to management of disputes on aircraft and whether schools, in coordination with air carriers, employees, and unions, could review such training and make recommendations. DOT must report to Congress within one year.
Sec 744 Single-Piloted Commercial Cargo Aircraft
Directs FAA to work with NASA and others to establish a research and development program in support of single-piloted cargo aircraft assisted with drone and computer piloting.