A Capitol View
Our industry continues to garner much attention in the nation’s capital amid federal investment in airport infrastructure, recently passed
tax incentives for sustainable aviation fuel, and preparations for next year’s FAA reauthorization. Increasingly, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are also turning their attention to Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) as industry efforts raise awareness of the technology’s potential to increase urban mobility and connect rural communities while reducing aviation emissions and decreasing associated noise. Even with OEMs making great strides toward developing and certifying electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, much of the considerations for AAM’s safe and successful integration into the existing aviation ecosystem remains up in the air. One of NATA’s strategic priorities is the development of a sound regulatory framework for AAM operations, as well as guidance
for and investment in the physical infrastructure necessary to support it.
Recent passage of the Advanced Air Mobility Coordination and Leadership Act (S. 516), which enjoyed wide, bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress, moves the U.S. closer to an AAM national strategy. Endorsed by NATA, the legislation establishes a working
group of federal agency representatives to plan for the safety, operations, infrastructure, security, and federal investment necessary for maturation of our nation’s AAM ecosystem. In coordination with a broad array of industry stakeholders, the working group must examine
operational and regulatory frameworks; air traffic and safety considerations; existing federal programs and policies that could advance the AAM industry; infrastructure needs; the strength of domestic supply chains; and economic, environmental, transportation, and emergency response benefits associated with AAM. Then, within two years of the law’s enactment, the group must develop the AAM National Strategy. At press time, the final legislation had cleared Senate procedures and was headed to the White House for an expected Presidential signature.
Further evidence of AAM’s traction on Capitol Hill is the Advanced Aviation Infrastructure Modernization (AAIM) Act (H.R. 6270), which passed the House of Representatives by a wide margin in June. The AAIM Act would establish a pilot grant program for the planning and construction of public-use vertiports or associated infrastructure, authorizing a total of $25 million over two years for individual grants up to $1 million. Eligible entities include airport sponsors, transit and port authorities, and state and local governments, with priority given to those who partner with relevant industry stakeholders. Companion legislation (S. 4246) has been introduced in the Senate and cleared the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee in May by a voice vote. NATA continues to advocate for final passage of the AAIM Act and will keep members informed of the legislation’s progress so that aviation businesses interested in bringing AAM technologies to their communities can work with their airport sponsors to secure a planning grant.
The launch this summer of the Advanced Air Mobility Congressional Caucus also picked up momentum with a congressional reception sponsored by NATA, other business aviation associations, and leading AAM companies. Dedicated to educating members of Congress and their staffs about AAM technology and the development of sound regulatory oversight, the AAM Caucus is co-chaired by Reps. Jay Obernolte (R-CA) and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA). Both caucus chairs cite a desire to foster partnership between industry and the federal government, as well as a deep commitment to maintaining U.S. aviation global leadership, as primary motivations for establishing the bipartisan group.
Just as Congress is laying the groundwork for a safe and efficient integration of AAM in the national air space, NATA is committed to helping aviation businesses successfully prepare for the next generation of flight. Please share your insight and feedback with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (571) 384-0970 as we continue this important conversation with lawmakers and regulators here in Washington, DC.