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Rep. Franklin’s Aviation Career Informs His Work in Congress

Rep. Scott Franklin (R-18-FL) has been elected twice as a member of Congress and has been appointed to serve on the House Appropriations Committee, House Science, Space and Technology Committee, as well as the House Veterans Affairs Committee. Franklin spent 20 years in insurance and risk management before entering government service. Franklin’s first career was as a naval aviator, where he flew jets from aircraft carriers for 26 years. He is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, holds an MBA from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and has served in leadership roles with many civic organizations, including the Sun ‘n Fun fly-in, the Aerospace Center for Excellence and Lakeland International Airport Advisory Board.

Q: You joined NBAA in supporting parts of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) legislation providing grants to assist communities in planning and infrastructure for development and construction of vertiports – where advanced air mobility (AAM) aircraft can land and take off. How important is it for communities to pay attention to this new emerging sector of aviation?

Advanced air mobility vehicles will play an important part in keeping the United States competitive on the world stage. As the technology develops, just like AI, space and other cutting-edge science, America needs to maintain global leadership. In our absence, China and other adversaries will gladly fix the system to benefit their interests, especially if they can outpace American investment.

It appears advanced air mobility vehicles will be approved by the FAA in the coming years. These advancements are set to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs and help augment the capacity of existing air travel and transportation infrastructure. Instead of ride sharing or riding the city bus, communities will benefit from vertiports, where passengers can travel via aerial vehicle to their desired destination more quickly and affordably.

To meet this challenge, the U.S. must invest to ensure the required infrastructure is in place. As part of my work on the House Appropriations Committee, it was important to consider the successful implementation and the support needed to facilitate the safe use and proliferation of these vehicles. In fiscal year 2024, I was pleased to support $12,500,000 in competitive grants for airports and municipalities planning for or developing AAM and vertiports. I will continue to advocate full funding of this initiative and look for further progress in the coming fiscal years as we make an effort to pioneer this market here in the U.S.

Q: That legislation, as you know, also codified the FAA’s data privacy program. The FAA recently announced expanded availability of the Privacy ICAO Address (PIA) program to include certain offshore and Gulf of Mexico routes. Overall, what’s your position regarding limiting the availability of real-time ADS-B position and identification information for specific aircraft – especially with regard to flight safety and security?

While notionally the ADS-B out is intended for operator and passenger safety, I understand the reticence many have regarding the availability of real-time ADS-B data to the public and other non-government entities. As ADS-B data develops and becomes ubiquitous, there is an inherent data privacy risk. Many private owners/operators fear how readily available the data is for the public and third-party sites that publish this information. In the wrong hands, this data can pose a safety or security risk for private parties and invite unwanted probing. Congress must work to balance both the safety and the privacy of private owners and operators.

I support the FAA’s recent expansion of the Privacy ICAO Address (PIA) program beyond just U.S. airspace to limited offshore and Gulf of Mexico routes. As a retired career U.S. naval aviator and general aviation pilot, I strongly support this program.

I would support the FAA taking additional action to further expand the program and reduce barriers of entry for participants.

I was pleased to work to include section 116 in the FY24 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill that was signed into law. This critical measure prohibits the FAA from preventing or acting in a way that limits owner/operators from taking part in the PIA program.

“The consequences of aviation legislation are too great for win/lose propositions.”

Q: Finally, as a lawmaker involved in aviation-related legislation, how have you applied what you’ve learned about aviation safety over the years as a former naval aviator and as a former member of the board of directors for the Sun ‘n Fun fly-in?

My approach to legislating is heavily informed by the lessons I learned over my naval aviation career in roles as a carrier air wing safety officer, squadron maintenance officer [MO] and wing operations officer. As an MO, the best way to keep the jets “up” was to not break them by flying them.

As an ops officer, charged with accomplishing the mission, it was all about “more, more, more.” It was while wearing my safety officer hat that I learned the key to sustainable, safe operations is in striking the proper balance between those competing interests.

Similarly, effective legislating that produces enduring desired outcomes requires finding that sweet spot among various competing ideas. The consequences of aviation legislation are too great for win/lose propositions.

March/April 2024

FAA’s Top Airport Official Discusses Safety, AAM and Vertiports

With runway safety and electric aircraft platforms on the minds of so many business aviators, FAA Associate Administrator of Airports Shannetta R. Griffin, P.E. answers questions about recent close calls and the transformation toward advanced air mobility.
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Jan/Feb 2024

Air and Space Museum Chief Talks Bizav, Sustainability

Christopher U. Browne reveals how the iconic facility is doing its part to highlight business aviation for the next generation as well as how the industry can continue to grow with sustainable operations.
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Nov/Dec 2023

Nevada Lawmaker Titus Touts AAM, Drones and Infrastructure

Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV-01) of the House Subcommittee for Aviation details what more can be done to help airports and municipalities collaborate with surrounding communities to support advanced air mobility.
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Sept/Oct 2023

NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy Talks Safety and Myth-Busting

The head of the National Transportation Safety Board discusses safety management system scalability, runway incursions and introducing advanced aviation mobility into the National Airspace System.
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