Drone Inspection and Other Aviation Bills Advance

The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure advanced three aviation bills on April 28, namely, H.R. 3482, the National Center for the Advancement of Aviation Act of 2021, H.R. 5315, the Drone Infrastructure Inspection Grant Act and H.R. 6270, the Advanced Aviation Infrastructure Modernization (AAIM) Act.

“I am pleased to see this bipartisan aviation legislation advance through committee today,” Chair Peter DeFazio (D-OR) said. “It has been clear for some time that more must be done to build and sustain our workforce if we want to remain world leaders in aviation and creating the National Center for the Advancement of Aviation will help us do just that. Additionally, the committee took action to promote the use of drones and advanced air mobility (AAM) aircraft—technology that holds tremendous potential but also must be deployed safely and with local communities in mind. I applaud the work of committee members Rick Larsen, Andre Carson and Greg Stanton who were the authors of the three aviation bills we considered today.”

“As Chair of the Aviation Subcommittee, I am focused on investing in an innovative aviation system that creates jobs and will last into the 2050s and beyond,” said Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA) “These bipartisan bills enable communities to plan for safe integration of emerging entrants into the U.S. airspace and existing transportation networks, foster greater collaboration and technological innovation, and prepare the workforce to meet the demands of the aviation economy.”

“I thank my committee colleagues for approving the National Center for the Advancement of Aviation. Our bipartisan and bicameral legislation strengthens the aviation industry by promoting greater collaboration and information sharing across many different flight sectors,” Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) said. “Our bill will help ensure a more diverse aviation workforce, create more good jobs and keep our skies safer. Chairman Larsen and I will continue working hard to make this bill law in honor of our other sponsor, the late Rep. Don Young, who was a tireless champion for aviation. I thank him for his work on this bill and many other important priorities for our committee.”

“Drones are a common-sense tool to inspect hard-to-reach parts of our critical infrastructure—they’re safer, speedier and more sustainable than traditional methods. These grants will go a long way to help state, local and Tribal governments invest in this cutting-edge technology, address their inspection backlogs and better care for aging infrastructure. I’m grateful to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their support,” Rep. Greg Stanton (D-AZ) said.

More information on the three aviation bills advanced during the April 28 markup:

H.R. 3482, National Center for the Advancement of Aviation Act of 2021

The U.S. aviation industry has experienced workforce challenges for the last several years. For instance, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) predicts more than 50 percent of the current science and engineering workforce is expected to soon hit retirement age, creating a need to develop the future aviation workforce as we approach this rising wave of new retirements.

H.R. 3482 would help address these workforce issues by creating a “National Center for the Advancement of Aviation,” a federally chartered, private entity to support and promote the civil aviation and aerospace workforce. The bill would, among other things, provide resources to: help develop a skilled U.S. aviation and aerospace workforce through scholarships, apprenticeships, aviation curriculum development, and other outreach efforts; serve as an educational research repository for workforce development and skills training; and provide a national independent forum to support collaboration between government and nongovernmental stakeholders.

H.R. 5315, Drone Infrastructure Inspection Grant Act

Drones ranging in size from handheld to those weighing more than 50,000 pounds are becoming increasingly common in our skies. The FAA projects that the recreational drone fleet will grow to nearly 1.5 million units by 2024 and the commercial fleet will increase to more than 800,000 units by that same year. Simultaneously, drones are increasingly being used today by state departments of transportation, local municipalities, and other stakeholders to enhance the traditional inspections of critical infrastructure, such as bridges, roads, and dams.

H.R. 5315 would invest $200 million in a drone infrastructure inspection grant program and a drone education and workforce training grant program at the U.S. Department of Transportation to support more efficient inspection, maintenance, and repair of the nation’s critical infrastructure, and better equip the U.S. workforce to use drone technology.

H.R. 6270, Advanced Aviation Infrastructure Modernization (AAIM) Act

Leveraging recent advances in aerospace technology, new AAM designs—including flying cars, passenger air vehicles or taxis, and electric aircraft—have the potential to reduce traffic congestion on U.S. roads, improve mobility options for commuters and cargo, and lessen the current burden on surface infrastructure. To keep pace with this growing sector, states and localities need to prepare for anticipated AAM operations and ensure local communities can take advantage of the potential benefits of the safe integration of AAM technologies in U.S. airspace.

H.R. 6270 establishes a two-year pilot program that invests $25 million in competitive grants for state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments to prepare for the development and deployment of AAM vertiports and related infrastructure.

Read the announcement at the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

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