FAA Reauthorization Bills Hit Turbulence, but Composites Language Onboard
The Senate bill expands the existing Advanced Materials Center of Excellence and now lists specific “applied research and training on the safe use of composites and advanced materials in airframe structures.” Under this program, the center shall “establish goals to advance … carbon fiber polymers and thermoplastic composites, and structural technologies, such as additive manufacturing, to be used in applications within the commercial aircraft industry, including traditional fixed wing aircraft, rotorcraft, and emerging aircraft types such as advanced air mobility aircraft.
The House version does not include this language; however, it does include a call for FAA to establish an Aircraft Weight Reduction Task Force. This task force should investigate “novel technologies and manufacturing processes, including the use of advanced materials, that can safely be used in the construction or modification of covered aircraft, including a component or the interior of such aircraft, to reduce weight or to improve fuel efficiency.”
If you are interested in supporting ACMA’s efforts to keep these important provisions in the FAA bill, please contact ACMA’s Dan Neumann.
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved the House version of the legislation on June 14. The full House will try to move this bill before the August recess. The Senate committee process has stalled following amendments on two issues. First, a number of Senators have pushed to expand the long-range flights available to Washington-Reagan National Airport (“DCA”). The amendment has drawn support from some airlines looking to expand offerings and opposition from United, which uses nearby Dulles International Airport as a hub. The four senators from Virginia and Maryland all oppose the amendment.
Additionally, an amendment to loosen training requirements offered by Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and John Thune (R-SD) has drawn fierce opposition from Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), an army veteran who flew helicopters. The amendment “will mean blood on your hands when the inevitable accident occurs as a result of an inadequately trained flight crew,” Senator Duckworth said.