Congressman Adrian Smith says he has a way to help local airports suffering from recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations.
On Thursday, the congressman introduced the Small Airport Regulation Relief Act of 2014. The bill would assist rural airports, like the Alliance and Scottsbluff airports, threatened by a pilot shortage caused in part by new federal regulations.
New federal regulations require co-pilots to have at least 1,500 hours of flight time.
Smith’s legislation would require the FAA to use enplanement numbers from the calendar year 2012 when calculating appropriate annual funds for airports through the Airport Improvement Program for 2015 and 2016 .
It would ensure those airports which reached 10,000 enplanements in 2012, before the new regulations, could use the enplanement numbers from that year.
“These small, rural airports successfully qualified for the airport improvement program before the pilot shortage reduced enplanements,” said Smith. “This legislation would ensure these small airports are not penalized twice by the unintended consequences of these new rules.”
Smith says the bill does not resolve the pilot shortage but calls it “a step in the right direction.”
The airport improvement program provides funds for projects to improve infrastructure, including runways, taxiways, aprons, noise control, land purchases, navigational aids, safety and security.