March 22, 2010

FAA Renewal Focuses on Jobs and Safety

Today's passage of the FAA Reauthorization Act means thousands of new jobs, improved air travel safety and strengthened air traffic control infrastructure nationwide.

This is a great example of common sense legislation that tackles real issues with practical solutions, while simultaneously boosting job growth. Here are the bottom line facts on the bill:

  • It create or saves 150,000 jobs by investing in airport infrastructure. 
  • It improves commercial airline service to small and rural communities. 
  • It establishes better consumer rights protections for air travelers. 
  • It invests $500 million to modernize air traffic control facilities. 
  • It researches environmental initiatives and improvements.

I'm particularly encouraged that this bill includes an important safety provision that I authored while serving in the House. As a result, the bill will allow us to better prepare flight attendants to deal with passengers that are belligerent or likely to drive drunk as a result of consuming too much alcohol on planes.

When I first proposed that legislation in 2006, Santa Fe had just been shaken by a tragedy involving a drunk driver who was visibly intoxicated on a flight to Albuquerque just hours before. Without adequate safeguards to prevent him from getting behind the wheel, the drunk driver struck a car carrying a family of six on their way home from a soccer match, killing himself and five family members in the other car.

New provisions for airline attendant training won't stop all drunk driving crashes from occurring, but it will make it more difficult for drunk air passengers to deplane and drive. The goal is to save lives, and I believe that is what this legislation will do.