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Nevada Lawmaker Titus Touts AAM, Drones and Infrastructure

Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV-01) is currently in her seventh term in the U.S. House of Representatives, serving on the House Subcommittee for Aviation as part of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

As ranking member of the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management, Titus works to help Nevada’s communities better respond to natural disasters, address the impacts of climate change and fight for infrastructure projects.

She also serves on the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Committee on Homeland Security.

For years Titus taught American and Nevada government classes at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where she currently has professor emeritus status. A noted non-fiction writer, Titus is internationally known for her expertise in the history and policies related to nuclear power, weaponry and waste.

Q: What more can Congress do to help young people gain access to jobs in the aviation industry, especially opportunities in advanced air mobility (AAM)?

If we’re really committed to the principles of workforce development, we need to start early to engage with job seekers at every stage in their vocational life. That means we need to introduce younger generations to this exciting field and raise awareness of the opportunities ahead with AAM. As an educator, I know that this starts in the classroom, where we need to do a better job to create a workforce pipeline that maintains competitiveness for what will be a $1 trillion industry in the next few decades. That’s why I am a strong supporter of STEM programs and, in the House-passed FAA reauthorization bill, I pushed for investments in aviation workforce development programs that benefit aspects of AAM systems.

“We need to introduce younger generations to this exciting field and raise awareness of the exciting opportunities ahead with AAM.”

Q: As AAM continues to emerge, what more can be done to help airports and municipalities collaborate with surrounding communities to develop comprehensive plans for AAM at airports as well as to build new vertical infrastructure sites?

Estimates show that AAM has the ability to create 300,000 jobs and generate $115 billion in domestic economic activity annually by 2035. That is in addition to the multitude of benefits that will come with the removal of harmful emissions and noise pollution. This, however, will not become a reality if Congress is not making the necessary investments in existing programs that promote comprehensive planning for these sustainable aviation networks.

Last year, I was proud to work with Transportation and Infrastructure Ranking Member Rep. Rick Larsen (D-2-WA) and Aviation Subcommittee Chair Rep. Garret Graves (R-6-LA) to include language in the FY23 appropriations agreement that incentivizes municipalities to develop comprehensive plans for the establishment of vertiports, electric charging and fueling stations, and connectivity to existing public transportation and multimodal hubs. Vertical takeoff vehicles are no longer something out of the Jetsons, and as organizations continue pursuing those concepts, these grants have the potential to assist cities like Las Vegas in exploring and planning future AAM infrastructure and operations. That cannot happen if the program is not fully funded.

Q: With you as a co-chair, the bipartisan Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus has had some recent successes at getting legislation about operating drones beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) included in the House FAA reauthorization bill. Why is BVLOS such an important issue now, and how will business aviation benefit?

Our country has fallen behind global competitors in hastening the deployment of unmanned systems, whether for mitigating and suppressing wildfires or expanding into commercial operations. Through the Unmanned Systems Caucus and conversations with stakeholders, I know that one of the biggest barriers to drone development and use is the current waiver process for BVLOS operations.

The language included in the House-passed FAA reauthorization bill mandates a BVLOS rulemaking that will do away with the patchwork waiver process. This will provide more certainty for companies and will help transform the way we do business, whether delivering essential services or eventually getting people from point A to point B.

“The House-passed FAA reauthorization bill mandates a BVLOS rulemaking which will do away with the patchwork waiver process. This will provide more certainty for companies and will help transform the way we do business.”

Q: You've done much to make Nevada a friendlier place for the business aviation industry. What more needs to be accomplished?

Thanks in part to the over $120 million in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law spending I helped bring back to my district, our region has done a tremendous job making the necessary investments to enhance the air travel experience. Part of that funding has been particularly helpful for addressing the limited airspace capacity in the area by making investments in our local ATC systems. This will be necessary as general aviation increases with conventions returning and more people are expected to fly in for special events like Formula One and the Super Bowl.

As we look ahead to new entrants into the National Airspace System (NAS), it is important that we keep capacity top of mind. This means ensuring that all aircraft have the necessary equipment to coexist in the NAS, and that we continue to invest in an air traffic control workforce to safely manage the skies.

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