Airplane at airport during sunrise with law books overlayed

The FAA Reauthorization: Why It’s Important

If you’ve been spending time near the aviation industry in the past year, you have probably heard about the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) reauthorization. Most of the FAA’s budget is financed from the Airport & Airway Trust Fund, which receives its revenue from aviation excise taxes on airline tickets, cargo, and general aviation fuel. This Trust Fund is maintained through the FAA Reauthorization Bill. The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 expired on September 30, 2023, and the aviation community was expecting a replacement reauthorization bill in 2023. However, the current political environment has necessitated extensions of funding to December 31, 2023, then to March 8, 2024, then to May 10, 2024, and most recently through May 17, 2024.

This matters to you as an aviator because none of the updates and improvements this bill contains could be implemented until it was signed it into law. The Senate Commerce Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee worked together to pass H.R. 3935, aka the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2024, on to Congress. The Senate overwhelmingly approved the bill on May 9, the house on May 15, and signed into law by President Biden on May 16, 2024. .

The FAA and aviation industry were chomping at the bit to have this new legislation passed as it offered quite a few updates and paths to improvement for current aviation systems, as well as increased funding for many of the FAA’s programs. The bill set the FAA budget, and therefore, the initiatives for the next five years. The focus areas of the bill and a few examples of how the bill works to improve each area follow.

  • The enhancement of aviation safety is paramount and well represented in the bill. Some of the provisions in this area include the implementation of tracking for high-altitude balloons and adding new technology to avoid runway close-calls, along with improvements to cabin air quality and aircraft cybersecurity.
  • Aviation workforce support and growth are priorities with directives included to address air traffic controller, pilot, aviation mechanic, aerospace engineers and manufacturing technical worker shortages, streamline pathways from military to civil aviation, provide self-defense training for flight attendants, and deal with the backlog of special medical approvals for pilots.
  • Consumer protections are also highlighted, incorporating requirements for setting clear procedures for a customer’s right to a refund, improving customer communication, and establishing fee-free family seating, among others.
  • The bill works to improve aircraft accessibility by compelling the study of evacuation standards, easing the obtaining of onboard wheelchairs, and offering grants for improving airport accessibility, alongside other accessibility assistances.
  • Airport updates and expanded air travel services are vital, and the bill ensures access and protects service for rural America and increases funding for airport improvement and modernization.
  • Continuing the modernization of the NAS (National Airspace System), the bill requires the completion of the NextGen air transportation system by the end of 2025 and includes funding for upgraded software and infrastructure. It also provides powers to FAA regarding commercial UAS (uncrewed aircraft systems) and air taxis.
  • The reauthorization also supports research and development for such areas as advanced materials, aviation information systems, alternative jet fuels, UAS, and AAM (advanced air mobility). It also directs the FAA to explore the best path to introduce new technologies into the airspace.
  • The bill also includes funding to empower the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board), incorporating allowances for additional workforce training, data access, and giving the board new investigative authorities around highway accidents.

What can you do? Encourage the members of Congress from your area to pass bills that support the aviation industry. Need help finding these people and how to contact them? Check out’s Find Your Members tool. Just put in your address, and your senators and representatives will be listed. Let them know you think aviation is important. The continued safe operation of general aviation in the US depends on it.

Images by Maria Tyutina ( and Eilis Garvey (

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