Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), chair of the Commerce Committee, has announced that the bill will increase FAA safety inspectors on factory floors and air traffic controllers in towers. This move is aimed at improving customer service for airlines by implementing mandatory refunds for flight disruptions and prohibiting carriers from charging more to keep families seated together.
Despite opposition from local lawmakers who argue that it will lead to more delays at the airport, the committee has agreed to include five extra slots for long-distance flights from Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) in the bill.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) expressed his disappointment with this decision, stating that it will only cram more flights onto an already busy runway and negatively impact DMV residents. However, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), the ranking member on the Commerce Committee, believes that this move will help modernize and transform the FAA’s operations while improving its core mission of keeping the flying public safe.
The bill’s advancement comes after several high-profile incidents involving aircraft safety, including an “explosive decompression” on an Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9 flight last month. Supporters of the bill believe that it will help nurture innovation and nascent technology like air taxis, hypersonic planes, and unmanned aircraft amidst the challenges faced by the aviation industry.
Overall, this legislation is aimed at enhancing safety standards in the aviation industry while also improving customer service for airlines and their passengers.