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Press Releases :: March 17, 2011

Committee Democrats Deplore Deep Funding Cuts to FAA Research, Citing Concerns over the Safety of the Flying Public

(Washington, DC) – Today, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held a markup of H.R. 970 to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Research and Development Program for fiscal years 2011 to 2014.   H.R. 970 would cut FAA’s research, engineering, and development accounts by 23% for each of the years authorized to meet the Republican Leadership’s arbitrary goal of limiting federal agency budgets to FY 2008 funding levels. In doing so, the Republican-sponsored bill ignores expert advice from witnesses at a recent Committee hearing to keep FAA’s research funding at least at current levels.

“I am very concerned that the cuts contained in this legislation are going to wind up jeopardizing the safety of the flying public and the continued viability of our aviation system,” stated Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX).  It may not happen today or next week, but sooner or later we are going to see the bad consequences of neglecting these critically important investments.  When that day comes, I do not want to have to look back and say that I stood by while Congress cut the research that is vital to the continued wellbeing of this important sector of our economy and to the continued safe operation of the nation’s aviation system.”

In addition to identifying the negative impact that the cuts could have for the safety of the flying public, Democrats also warned that the proposed cuts will have a negative impact on the environment, the cost of air travel, aviation-related jobs, and the efficiency of the nation’s air transportation system.

“While I am pleased H.R. 970 will provide a long-term reauthorization of these programs, I am deeply concerned about the funding levels authorized by the legislation,” said Rep. Jerry F. Costello (D-IL), who is also the Ranking Member of the Aviation Subcommittee of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.  “As I have said before, I believe every federal agency can afford to make cuts in certain areas.  But we must make certain those cuts do not affect the safety and security of the flying public.  The cuts contained in this bill will take us backwards, negatively affect safety and security, and halt job creation at a time when jobs are needed most.”

Democrats on the Committee introduced amendments to prevent cuts to three key safety research initiatives, which if adopted in total would have increased the four year authorization by a total of $16 million, or little more than 2 ½ percent of the $600 million authorized in the bill.   Democratic members noted that the costs of a single fatal commercial aviation accident far exceed the amounts needed to restore the cuts to research programs aimed at avoiding such accidents.



Democratic Amendments Offered


·         Miller (D-NC) – Icing –Would have prevented cuts to atmospheric hazards and aircraft icing research in order to provide FAA with the level of resources needed to perform research to reduce the number of accidents or potential accidents associated with aircraft icing. (Failed by a party-line recorded vote, 16-13)


·         McNerney (D-CA) - Fire –Would have prevented cuts to fire research and safety work in order to provide FAA with the funding necessary to perform research to reduce the number of accidents associated with aircraft fires, to mitigate the effects of a post-crash ground fire, and to help people survive an aircraft fire. Failed by a party-line recorded vote, 17-11)


·         Edwards (D-MD) – Human Factors –Would have prevented cuts to crew and maintenance human factors research in order to provide FAA with the necessary funds to carry out research to reduce errors by pilots, inspectors, and maintenance technicians. (Failed by a party-line recorded vote 17-13)


·         Costello (D-IL) – Authorized the FAA Administrator to establish a Center of Excellence to conduct research on aviation employment and training needs across the civil aviation industry to ensure we are attracting a highly-skilled and competitive workforce.(Passed by voice vote)


·         Miller (D-NC) – Review - Ensured that any review of FAA’s aviations safety-related research programs includes a review of whether the use of participant surveys is an appropriate way to study safety risks. (Passed by voice vote)

H.R. 970 passed the Committee by a party-line recorded vote and was reported favorably out of Committee.










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