FAA Extension Includes Disability-Related Provisions

After efforts to pass a long-term FAA reauthorization stalled, the House and Senate moved forward with an extension of the current authorization

After efforts to pass a long-term FAA reauthorization stalled, the House and Senate moved forward with an extension of the current authorization which was set to expire on July 15. This extension will expire in September 2017 setting up another opportunity in the next Congress to ensure that any reauthorization addresses the problems encountered by people with disabilities in air travel.

In a victory for PVA’s advocacy on this issue, the extension included two disability-related provisions. Section 2107 would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) within 270 days of enactment to submit a report to Congress regarding air carrier personnel and contractor training programs, including variations among policies between carriers, how frequently since 2005 the Department of Transportation has requested corrective action following reviewing a training policy, and the action taken by the carrier in response. After the report is issued, the Department must develop and disseminate to air carriers best practices necessary to improve training policies.

Section 2108 would require the Department of Transportation to issue specific pending Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) regulations within one year of enactment. These regulations include accessible lavatories on single aisle aircraft, seating accommodations, and service animals. PVA is currently serving on a negotiated rulemaking that is seeking to develop a consensus rule on the definition of service animals and accessible lavatories on single aisle aircraft, as well as accessible in-flight entertainment and communications.

PVA will continue to work to include disability-related provisions in next year’s FAA reauthorization. Specifically, we will seek to strengthen ACAA enforcement by amending the statute to include specific protections and a private right of action. We will also advocate to ensure that airplanes are designed to accommodate people with disabilities and that airlines must acquire planes that meet broad accessibility standards.

 

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