A bill to improve the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) pilot safety notification system, and two bills to improve and increase transparency in federal programs for disaster assistance, were approved on January 25 by the U.S. House of Representatives. The aviation bill to address the NOTAM (Notice to Air Mission) system follows the January 11, 2023, NOTAM system failure.
“Today the House passed several bills to strengthen the reliability and effectiveness of the FAA’s NOTAM system and make federal disaster programs work better for disaster victims,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO). “The recent NOTAM system meltdown highlighted a huge vulnerability in our air transportation system and underscores the need to address the leadership vacuum at FAA. As a professional pilot, I use the NOTAM system on a regular basis, and I know firsthand the importance of ensuring that it’s reliable and functional. Congressman Stauber’s bill will help institute much needed improvements to the FAA’s NOTAM system, and Congresswoman González-Colón’s bills will lead to more transparency and less red tape in disaster programs.”
H.R. 346, the NOTAM Improvement Act of 2023, introduced by Rep. Pete Stauber (R-MN), will establish an FAA taskforce to determine what improvements should be made to the NOTAM system, which alerts pilots of potential hazards along a flight route or at a location that could affect the safety of the flight.
H.R. 346 was approved by the House by a vote of 424 to 4. Rep. Stauber’s legislation also passed the House with bipartisan support in the 116th and 117th Congresses.
In the wake of the January 11, 2023, failure of the NOTAM system, Rep. Stauber included updates to his legislation to ensure the stability, resiliency, and cybersecurity of the NOTAM computer system are also considered by the taskforce.
“Failures of the NOTAM system earlier this month stressed the need to upgrade the program to ensure the safety of pilots, their crews, and passengers,” said Stauber. “I’ve heard from many pilots over the years about the vulnerabilities of the NOTAM system and my bill has previously passed the House twice. It’s now time for the Senate to act and pass this important legislation before another failure of the NOTAM system occurs.”
A preliminary Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) review of the January 11 outage of the Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) system determined that contract personnel unintentionally deleted files while working to correct synchronization between the live primary database and a backup database.
The House also approved two bills introduced by Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR) to improve transparency and coordination in federal disaster assistance programs.
H.R. 255, the Federal Disaster Assistance Coordination Act, helps Federal agencies streamline and eliminate overlap in the collection of information for Preliminary Damage Assessments to make disaster assistance easier to get for victims who are already enduring the hardship of disaster. H.R. 259, the Post-Disaster Assistance Online Accountability Act, will create a public, central online repository for disaster assistance funding to ensure greater transparency and public accountability in how taxpayer dollars dedicated to disaster recovery are actually spent.
Both H.R. 255 and H.R. 259 were approved by voice vote. Both González-Colón bills also passed the House in the 116th and 117th Congresses.
“The Post Disaster Assistance Online Accountability Act and the Federal Disaster Assistance Coordination Act promote transparency and quicker access to disaster funding,” said González-Colón. “During the last few years, my district, like many others, has faced multiple hardships due to disasters. I saw firsthand, and learned from local agencies and stakeholders, the many challenges associated with tracking disaster aid and multiple technical requirements for projects and allocations, which delay the recovery process. Both bills will improve accountability and oversight to guarantee that funding is being used as intended. As the sponsor, I am proud of these two bipartisan initiatives and trust they will help improve the federal government’s response to disasters moving forward. I thank Chairman Graves for his leadership and for acting swiftly to bring these bills to the floor. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to quickly consider this legislation and make this proposal the law of the land as part of our efforts to better prepare for disaster response.”
Read more at the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure