President Biden Signs Comprehensive Aviation Safety and Reform Bill into Law

By Ivan PetrenkoMay 18, 2024 06:30 AMNews
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A large jetliner sitting on top of an USA airport tarmac
A large jetliner sitting on top of an USA airport tarmac. Source: unsplash

On May 16, President Joe Biden signed the FAA Reauthorization Bill of 2024 into law, a bipartisan effort to enhance aviation safety and reform airline practices. The legislation, which renews the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) authority for five years, aims to improve protections for passengers and airline workers.

The new law introduces several key measures, including a prohibition on airlines charging fees for families to sit together and a requirement for airplanes to have 25-hour cockpit recording devices. It also strengthens oversight of aircraft production and raises the maximum civil penalties for airline consumer violations from $25,000 to $75,000.

President Biden highlighted the bill's significance for travelers, the aviation workforce, and the US economy. He emphasized that it builds on his administration's efforts to improve the travel experience, including mandating automatic refunds for canceled or significantly delayed flights and ensuring families can sit together without extra charges.

In addition to these consumer protections, the legislation grants five daily round-trip take-off and landing slots at Washington National Airport (DCA) and mandates the hiring and training of more air traffic controllers to address current shortages. The law also authorizes over $105 billion in funding for the FAA and $738 million for the National Transportation Safety Board for fiscal years 2024 through 2028.

Safety enhancements include the installation of additional runway technology at medium and large hub airports to reduce runway collisions and near-collisions. The law also requires the creation of a consumer dashboard displaying the minimum seat size for each US airline. Despite these reforms, the bill did not raise the mandatory pilot retirement age to 67 as some lawmakers had proposed.

The legislation also benefits Boeing, allowing the company to continue producing its 767 freighter in the US for an additional five years, exempting it from new efficiency rules set to take effect in 2028. This comprehensive bill is expected to have a positive impact on summer travel and beyond, ensuring safer and more consumer-friendly air travel experiences.

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