WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.) today lauded Senate passage of a bipartisan, five-year reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that will now go to the president for his signature. In addition to stabilizing grant funding for airport improvements and passenger safety and right-to-know measures, the legislation includes provisions put forward by both Cardin and Van Hollen to mitigate the noise levels from incoming and outgoing flights at both Thurgood Marshall Baltimore-Washington Airport (BWI) and Washington National Airport (DCA). The senators have been working for years with local Maryland communities, facilitating meetings and discussions between the FAA and local residents to bring some relief to those most harshly affected by recent changes in flight paths.
“Finally, we will have hard data to back up what many Marylanders already know: the recently altered flight paths are wreaking havoc on the people below. The FAA has to take notice and work with local communities to alleviate the most serious of problems,” said Senator Cardin. “I appreciate the bipartisan support that helped move these provisions forward.”
“The FAA owes it to our communities to do their due diligence when selecting flight paths,” said Senator Van Hollen. “This legislation will help ensure that our communities’ needs are better addressed, and I’m pleased that this directs the FAA to give fair consideration to public concerns, improve development of flight procedures, and reduce noise through various techniques.”
Reauthorized in this FAA funding package is the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) that has brought more than $140 million in federal investment over the last five years along to Maryland airports for critical safety improvements. From BWI to Hagerstown (HGR), Salisbury-Ocean City Wicomico (SBY) to Montgomery County (GAI), and beyond, federal funds have been used to rehabilitate and extend runways, clear hazards and make Maryland’s airports large and small safer and more efficient. Maryland has received over $30 million in AIP funding in Fiscal Year 2018 alone.
“We’ve made a long-term commitment to ensuring Maryland’s local airports are safe and able to meet demand that is critical to keeping our economy moving,” said Senator Cardin. “AIP funds are a direct federal investment in the businesses and residents who depend on our regional airports for trade, tourism and transportation. I will continue working hard to ensure all our regional airports have the resources they need.”
“Maryland’s local airports serve as an important resource to the communities in our state and are vital to maintaining a strong economy,” said Senator Van Hollen. “This funding will support major improvements like runway upgrades, and help keep all of our airports – both large and small – safe and accessible to our residents. I will continue fighting to secure vital federal investments in Maryland’s transportation and infrastructure.”
Cardin and Van Hollen also praised the final, five-year FAA reauthorization for updating passenger rights when it comes to travel disruptions and flight schedule changes, including the addition of Senator Van Hollen’s “Customers not Cargo” provision that prevents passengers from being forcibly removed from planes. The bill also makes improvements for passengers with disabilities. It expands the availability of lactation rooms for new mothers and protects pets by barring them from overhead storage compartments. The bill also cuts down on in-flight distractions by expanding the cellphone ban and creates a much-needed grant program to support education of future pilots and aviation maintenance technical workers.
Cardin-Van Hollen Noise-Related Measures
- Clarifying when airports must submit updated noise exposure maps to the Secretary and requiring the FAA to consider noise concerns from affected communities when proposing new area navigation departure procedures or amending an existing procedure below 6,000 feet over noise sensitive areas.
- Directing the Administrator to conduct a review of the FAA’s community involvement in NextGen projects and requires the FAA to submit a report to Congress on how they can improve community involvement.
- Directing the Administrator to review and evaluate existing studies of the relationship between aircraft approach and takeoff speeds and corresponding noise impacts on communities surrounding airports.
- Directing a review of the impacts of a phase out of stage 3 aircraft.
- Directing the Administrator to conduct a review of the relationship between aircraft noise and its effect on communities surrounding airports, requiring recommendations for revising land use compatibility guidelines.
- Directing the FAA to partner with an eligible university to study health impacts of noise from aircraft flights on residents exposed to a range of noise levels focusing on a major metropolitan area including Boston, Chicago, New York, the Northern California Metroplex, Phoenix, the Southern California Metroplex, and Washington, DC region.
- Directing the FAA to carry out a pilot program to mitigate the impacts of aircraft noise, airport emissions, and water quality at airports.
- Creation of a program to research noise, emission, and fuel burn reduction options