April 19, 2016

Manchin Applauds Passage of FAA Reauthorization

Senator Manchin’s provisions include funding for Yeager Airport, increasing security at transportation hubs and supporting air transportation to small communities

Washington, D.C. – As a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) today applauded the Senate passage of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Bill, which extends the FAA authority through September 2017. Included in the bill are provisions important to West Virginia such as funding for Yeager Airport, increased security at transportation hubs and protections to ensure small, rural communities maintain essential air service. 

“As a pilot, I have always been passionate about the issues that affect the aviation community, and I’m happy we were able to come together to pass this important legislation,” Senator Manchin said. “This FAA bill supports small airports, like the ones in West Virginia, and includes important protections for our nation’s general aviation pilots. Reliable air service has allowed businesses in our state to expand their reach beyond our borders, and I am pleased that protecting and promoting service to rural communities remains a priority in this package. This important legislation will also increase security at transportation hubs across the country and will give our local first responders more flexibility to respond to new and emerging threats. I urge my colleagues in the House to take up this bill and send it to the President’s desk.”

Kanawha County Commission President W. Kent Caper stated, "Our Senator Joe Manchin has once again stood up for the people of West Virginia. Thank you."

Below is a full list of Senator Manchin’s provisions included in the bill:

  • Funding for Yeager Airport – Senator Manchin’s amendment will allow airports impacted by a Presidential disaster declaration to use Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding for permanent repairs if they are denied funding for these permanent repairs through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The bill also includes increased funding for AIP.
  • Airport Security Legislation – Senator Manchin helped lead the effort to include an amendment that will enhance security efforts in “soft” target areas at airports, such as check-in and baggage claim areas. It also doubles the number of Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams from 30 to 60 and provides new funding for law enforcement active shooter training.
  • Working Group on Improving Air Service to Small Communities – This legislation includes a working group that will study whether funding for, and terms of, the Essential Air Service and the Small Community Air Service Development Programs are sufficient to support air service to small, rural communities. The Essential Air Service program supports flights serving Beckley, Clarksburg, Morgantown, Parkersburg, and Greenbrier.
  • Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 – This bill includes responsible reforms to the medical certification process for general aviation pilots that increase training and educational opportunities and encourage more dialogue with their personal physician. This bill also increases due process protections for pilots, ensuring the FAA treats them in a fair and equitable manner.
  • Contract Weather Observers – The bill requires the FAA to review the ongoing efforts to dismantle the Contract Weather Observer program at small and medium sized airports and places a moratorium on those efforts until a study is complete.
  • Contract Tower Program Updates – Senator Manchin has been a consistent supporter of Contract Towers. This legislation provides important updates to the program that industry has been advocating for including an elimination of the annual benefit/cost analysis for most airports. West Virginia has four airports that participate in this program: Greenbrier, Parkersburg, Morgantown, and Wheeling.
  • Airplane Lessor Safe Harbor – The 1994 FAA bill codified a preemptive protection against state aircraft liability laws for aircraft lessors. However, a provision limiting liability to “on land or water only” led to judicial misinterpretation. Senator Manchin’s amendment strikes “on land or water” to conform with Congress’ original intent in creating the safe harbor and remove obstacles to financing the purchase of new aircraft.