U.S. House of Representatives Pass Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Bill
July 20, 2023
Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed its Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill, the Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act (H.R. 3935). The bill passed by a broad bipartisan vote of 351-69. It includes several important sections from the National MS Society-supported Air Carrier Access Amendments Act of 2023 (ACAAA) (H.R.1267/S.545). These provisions aim to make flying more accessible for people living with disabilities by addressing existing access barriers, enacting new aircraft standards, and changing the Department of Transportation’s (DOT’s) complaint process.
To address existing access barriers H.R. 3935 requires new standards for boarding and deplaning aircraft that focus on the needs of individuals with disabilities. These standards must account for individuals who use mobility devices such as wheelchairs. Additional standards are also required for boarding and deplaning equipment, improved procedures for cabin stowage of mobility devices, and improved cargo hold storage of mobility devices to prevent damage.
Additionally, H.R. 3935 looks to address accessibility standards for new planes. The bill mandates rulemaking on new aircraft seating standards to accommodate individuals with disabilities. These standards must include individuals who use mobility devices. It also requires input from stakeholders across aviation space, including national disability organizations. Further, the bill requires DOT to complete a feasibility study on safe and secure in-cabin wheelchair restraint systems.
Finally, the bill makes changes to the Department of Transportation’s complaint process. Currently there is no timeline in place for DOT to respond to air accessibility complaints. H.R. 3935 would require DOT to respond, in writing, within 120 days of any air accessibility complaint. DOT would be required to determine if the airline is at fault, the underlying facts of the complaint, and any response the Secretary is taking.
The Senate has still to move their FAA Reauthorization Act of 2023 (S.1939
), out of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation committee. With FAA authorization set to expire on September 30th, the Senate will be sprinting to make progress on reauthorization when they return from August recess.