House Passes Advanced Air Mobility Bills; Includes NATCA Input
This week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a version of the Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) Coordination and Leadership Act (H.R. 1339/S. 516) and the Advanced Aviation Infrastructure Modernization Act (H.R. 6270). These two bills seek to bolster current planning, coordination, and implementation of AAM technologies and infrastructure in the United States.
AAM is a newly developing form of aviation to move people and cargo between places not currently or easily served by surface transportation or existing aviation assets. This includes new entrants to the National Airspace System (NAS) such as electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft and air taxis. Sometimes AAM is also referred to as urban air mobility (UAM), although potential applications for this form of transportation could extend beyond high-density urban centers to local and regional transportation, as well as rural areas. These aircraft will likely range in size from single-passenger aircraft to shuttles carrying multiple people, and in some cases, the potential for autonomous operations without a human pilot.
Specifically, the AAM Coordination and Leadership Act establishes a new federal working group to examine planning and coordination issues surrounding the eventual deployment of AAM. The measure included key language at the request of NATCA to ensure that the working group engages directly with the frontline FAA workforce, including NATCA representatives, when developing recommendations. Similar legislation was passed by the Senate earlier this year, and this new version the House passed is based on a bipartisan, bicameral compromise which increases the likelihood of the bill becoming law. However, the Senate must now pass the bill in its current form before it can be sent to the President’s desk.
Meanwhile, the Advanced Aviation Infrastructure Modernization Act would authorize federal funding for grants to state and local entities that wish to plan or construct new infrastructure to support AAM deployment. NATCA secured several critical changes to the bill before it moved to the House floor, including language to ensure that safety remains a top priority when evaluating grant submissions and requiring that plans for new AAM “vertiport” infrastructure must consider any potential conflicts that could arise with respect to existing aviation infrastructure in the NAS. The measure now awaits consideration in the U.S. Senate, where similar legislation has also been introduced.
NATCA will continue to engage directly with federal lawmakers to ensure our Union’s priorities are reflected on Capitol Hill. NATCA thanks the bipartisan Members of Congress and staff who worked with us to ensure NATCA’s concerns were addressed, which strengthened the bills as they moved forward in the legislative process.