Washington, D.C.—The U.S. Senate passed the bipartisan Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act today by a vote of 95 to 3. The legislation included an amendment authored by U.S. Senator Susan Collins, the Chairman of the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, that would prohibit the closing of the contract weather observer service. Senator Collins’ amendment was unanimously adopted by the Senate.
In May 2015, the FAA proposed cutting contract weather observers at 57 of the nation’s airports. Although many airports use an automated weather observing system, this system has limitations and is not designed to report any weather around the airport that has not yet encountered a sensor. Senator Collins' bipartisan amendment would prohibit the FAA from eliminating contract weather observers, helping to ensure the safety of our airports and protecting jobs at the Portland International Jetport, the Bangor International Airport, and nearly sixty other airports across the country.
“Contract weather observers are vital to ensuring that flights in and out of our airports are safe for air crews and passengers in Maine and across our country,” said Senator Collins. “Delegating this responsibility to air traffic controllers, who must also monitor and manage air traffic, poses an unnecessary safety risk.”
The FAA reauthorization also includes several measures to bolster airport security for passengers by improving airport employee vetting to ensure dangerous individuals don’t have access to secure areas, expanding enrollment in the TSA PreCheck program so passengers move through security lines more quickly, and enhancing security for international flights bound for the U.S. The legislation also addresses growing cybersecurity threats facing aviation and air navigation systems and contains new consumer protections for airline passengers.
“I was pleased to support the FAA reauthorization, which contains numerous security and passenger-friendly provisions,” Senator Collins continued. “This legislation will help protect airline passengers and flight crews from growing threats posed by terrorists as well as increase transparency for consumers.”