Rep. Sharice Davids (D-3-KS) is vice chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and a member of its Aviation Subcommittee. A resident of Roeland Park, KS, she was a first-generation college student who graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and earned a law degree from Cornell Law School. During her career, Davids has focused on economic and community development, which included time as a White House Fellow under President Barack Obama. When she was elected to her current post in 2018, Davids became one of the first two Native American women to serve in Congress.
Q: FAA reauthorization provides an opportunity to address issues important to NBAA members. What are some of your main priorities for the upcoming bill?
As always, safety remains the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s primary concern when looking at the upcoming FAA reauthorization. We must ensure the FAA has the resources and support needed to maintain the safest airspace in the world. Also, we will continue to provide oversight and direction so the agency can operate efficiently and effectively and meet domestic travel and transportation demands.
Reauthorization is also an opportunity to address new and emerging technologies, including advanced air mobility (AAM). This sector of the aviation industry represents a large potential market in which the U.S. can be a global leader. But to get there, it will take coordination between stakeholders, including NBAA, as well as government officials, regulatory authorities and business.
“We must ensure the FAA has the resources and support needed to maintain the safest air space in the world.”
Q: As the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Vice Chair, you introduced the Advanced Air Mobility Coordination and Leadership Act. How will this legislation promote AAM and emerging technologies?
AAM is an emerging sector of the aviation industry that creates an entirely new mode of transportation, using specialized vehicles to transport people and cargo between places previously not served by aviation, including both urban and rural areas. AAM will expand sustainable regional transportation options, offer new ways to move goods, create skilled jobs in Kansas’ aviation industry, and boost emergency preparedness and competitiveness.
This bill would develop an AAM interagency working group, composed of federal agency and civil aviation industry leaders, which will review policies and make recommendations to advance this emerging technology. By facilitating the coordination of government and industry, this bill will help harness the potential of this rapidly developing and transformative technology for the benefit of American industry.
“The needs of Native communities and other underrepresented populations, including people of color and women, should absolutely be included in the development, manufacturing, training and rollout of emerging technologies.”
Q: You are a recognized expert on economic and community development in Native communities. Do you see opportunities for these historically underserved communities to utilize AAM and other emerging technologies?
The needs of Native communities and other underrepresented populations – including people of color and women – should absolutely be included in the development, manufacturing, training and rollout of emerging advanced aviation technologies.
These underrepresented groups are often the last to take advantage of economic advancement opportunities similar to those that AAM will bring about – new forms of transportation, regional job creation and environmentally friendly solutions.
Currently, there are tribes, like Choctaw Nation, working on emerging aviation technologies and others looking to promote economic development that I’m sure would benefit from AAM opportunities. We must ensure they are at the table as these technologies develop, not simply as they are introduced.
“It’s important for the aviation workforce to represent the makeup of those it is serving, and we do that through targeted community outreach and partnerships with education programs.”
Q: As the first openly LGBTQ+ Native American woman elected to Congress, you are uniquely positioned to promote diversity, equity and inclusion. What DE&I initiatives are you championing to meet business aviation’s workforce challenges?
Workforce challenges are occurring in every industry, as our country works to bounce back from the pandemic.
That certainly includes the aviation sector, where we have a huge opportunity to rebound and become more resilient, with a focus on creating a more diverse and inclusive workforce.
It’s important for that workforce to represent the makeup of those it is serving, and we do that through targeted community outreach and partnerships with education programs.