August 3, 2018

NBAA recently joined with a coalition of aviation groups in two separate efforts to reaffirm federal authority over the National Airspace System (NAS), including a letter to leaders of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation opposing any attempt to modify or remove the federal preemption provision of the 1978 Airline Deregulation Act (ADA).

In the Aug. 1 letter to committee chair Sen. John Thune (R-SD) and ranking committee member Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), NBAA and seven other industry stakeholders joined in support of the ADA provision (49 USC 41713) prohibiting states from enacting any law or regulation “related to a price, route, or service of an air carrier,” in favor of maintaining a single set of rules at the federal level.

“[C]ourt decisions and opinion letters issued by the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Office of General Counsel have defined the contours of federal authority under the ADA,” read the letter. “The preemption provision has provided legal certainty for air carriers and customers and a single set of rules for the inherently interstate activity of aviation.”

Read the letter to Senate Commerce Committee leadership.

Altering the provision, the letter continued, would “open the door to creating a patchwork of state aviation regulatory regimes,” and establish a precedent for “similar legislative carve-outs” in the future. “Congress should not unravel this well-established federal authority over aviation,” the groups noted.

Also on Aug. 1, 14 industry groups, including NBAA, sent a letter to U.S. senators in support of language in the House FAA reauthorization bill (H.R. 4) amending current regulations to allow the FAA to fully regulate unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) when deemed necessary for the safety and security of the NAS. “This provision establishes a solid foundation from which an appropriate regulatory structure can be developed to ensure the safe regulation of UAS in U.S. airspace,” the letter continued.

Review the Senate letter regarding FAA authority over UAS operations.

While each letter addresses different aspects of aviation, they share a common theme on the importance of maintaining federal regulatory oversight of the NAS.

“The safety and integrity of the nation’s airspace and aviation system are dependent upon a single, uniform regulatory authority that must not be compromised, however inadvertently, by local policies,” said Dick Doubrava, NBAA vice president for government affairs. “NBAA firmly believes the public interest is best served by that authority remaining with the FAA, and subject to congressional oversight.”

The Senate is now considering its own version of the FAA reauthorization bill (S. 1405), which would provide funding for the agency through FY2021.