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Hickenlooper Cheers Committee Passage of FAA Reauthorization, Colorado Priorities Incorporated

Feb 8, 2024

Legislation includes several Hickenlooper-led bills and amendments

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper, member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, applauded the passage of the bipartisan Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2023 out of the Commerce Committee, which will expand the aviation workforce, improve our airport infrastructure, maintain the highest standards of aviation safety, and fund the FAA through the end of Fiscal Year 2028.

“From the smallest airports on the Western Slope to the nation’s third busiest airport in Denver, air travel is a big part of Colorado communities,” said Hickenlooper. “This bill will help us reduce aircraft noise in communities, keep rural airports in service and make air travel safer for everyone.”

Hickenlooper fought for many Colorado priorities in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2023, which will: 


  • REDUCE COMMUNITY NOISE: Establishes an Aircraft Noise Advisory Committee on issues related to aircraft noise exposure and pathways to improve FAA existing policies and regulations, and will include representatives from airport-adjacent communities
    • Hickenlooper sent a letter last year to the FAA to consider community concerns about noise complaints near Centennial Airport
  • MODERNIZE REMOTE TOWERS: Requires FAA to finalize a structured process to review, test, and approve Remote Tower Systems, like the one at Northern Colorado Regional Airport


  • SUSTAIN REGIONAL AIR SERVICE ACTHickenlooper’s Sustain Regional Air Service Act will study the effect of the current pilot shortage on regional carriers. The legislation comes after rural airports across Colorado and the country, including in Pueblo, Alamosa, and Grand Junction, have recently seen reduced service by airlines who cite the pilot shortage
  • MAINTAIN ‘LIFELINE’ AIR SERVICE TO RURAL COMMUNITIES: Several provisions will help protect air service to our rural airports, ensuring small businesses and Americans in our rural communities can depend on commercial service
    • Strengthens the Essential Air Service (EAS) program by expanding eligibility for the program and giving the Department of Transportation (DOT) additional enforcement authority for carriers that try to break their service commitments
    • The legislation also includes provisions based on the Hickenlooper-cosponsored Small Communities Air Service Enhancement Act, which will help small communities attract new air service through the Small Community Air Service Development program. In recent years, this program has benefited airports like Eagle County Regional Airport, Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport, and Grand Junction Regional Airport in Colorado.


  • IMPROVE AERIAL FIREFIGHTING: Provisions based on the Hickenlooper-cosponsored Wildfire Response Aviation Modernization & Safety Act will allow firefighters to be transported on aircraft performing time-critical wildfire suppression operations
  • HELP KEEP OUR FIREFIGHTERS SAFE: Establishes a new grant program to help airports dispose of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and replace them with safer solutions for firefighters
  • PROMOTE INNOVATION TOWARDS A CLEAN ENERGY FUTURE: Expands the FAA’s Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions, and Noise (CLEEN) program to encourage small businesses and startups to innovate and develop efficient aviation technologies

Overall, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2023 funds the agency through FY2028 and makes historic investments to our aviation sector, and will:

  • PROTECT AMERICAN CONSUMERS EVERY STEP OF THE WAY: As chair of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Data Security and Product Safety, Hickenlooper applauded the inclusion of several provisions to protect consumers, including more guidance and policies on refunds, fee transparency, family seating, and flight schedules.
  • BUILD OUR AVIATION WORKFORCE: Grows the aviation workforce pipeline through education, staffing standards, and recruitment of pilots, maintenance technicians, aircraft manufacturing workers, and air traffic controllers – all with a focus on bringing more women into aviation careers
  • MAINTAIN THE SAFEST AIRSPACE IN THE WORLD: Improves runway safety, funds FAA’s safety programs including aircraft certification and air carrier oversight, hires critical staff such as air traffic controllers and technicians, and expands guidance for drones/unmanned aircraft systems (UAS)
    • INCREASING COMPETITIVENESS FOR AMERICAN DRONES ACT: The Hickenlooper-cosponsored bill will establish guidance on drone usage for beyond visual line-of-sight operations such as for public safety or emergency response.
      • Also includes a Hickenlooper-led amendment that will establish an Associate Administrator position for UAS integration at the FAA.
    • $18.2 billion will fund FAA facilities and equipment to modernize technology solutions and ensure resilience and development of the national airspace
  • UPGRADE AIRPORT INFRASTRUCTURE: Increases Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding levels over the next five years to build modern airport infrastructure
  • IMPROVE PASSENGER ACCESSIBILITY: Provides passengers and consumers with disabilities more accessibility options, including for wheelchairs and seating on aircraft

For full video of the markup, click HERE.


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