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July 24, 2019

King, Inhofe Introduce Legislation to Improve Next Era of Aviation

PLANE Act gives pilots, air traffic controllers and other aviation staff a seat at the table to discuss the future of aviation.

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) and U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) introduced the Promoting the Launch of Aviation’s Next Era (PLANE) Act of 2019. This bipartisan legislation would empower the voices of pilots, invest in airport infrastructure and ensure more opportunities for a trained aviation workforce.

“For rural Maine communities, general aviation is a vital lifeline – both literally and economically,” said Senator King. “This legislation would make important investments in this pillar of our nation’s transportation and would cut through bureaucratic burdens, so these airports, the men and women who operate them, and the pilots who travel to and from them can continue providing vital services to rural Maine people. This is an important, bipartisan bill that will help power local economies and ensure all Maine people can access lifesaving medical care when facing an emergency.”

“Our rural airports, in addition to being economic drivers for our rural economy, are the doors to our hospitals for critically ill and injured patients needing emergency care at distant specialty medical centers,” said LifeFlight of Maine Executive Director Tom Judge. “Senator King’s keen appreciation and support for state of the art infrastructure to protect our communities and the people of Maine in emergencies and disasters helps organizations like ours save lives when minutes are precious. The need has never been greater and this important legislation will literally save lives while providing economic growth in rural Maine.     

More specifically, the PLANE Act would expand pilot’s bill of rights and enhance protections for the aviation community. In addition to pilot protections, the legislation:

  • Requires additional transparency in any FAA rulemaking, and full consideration of the impact any rulemaking may have on any certificate holders.
  • Establishes a public-private partnership for general aviation airports to attract private sector investment
  • Empowers trained private citizens who want to certify pilots and aircraft by giving them necessary civil liability protection.
  • Allows Air Traffic Control applicants to include classroom and simulation training within an FAA-approved formal training process.
  • Ensures that tax receipts from all aviation fuel sources are deposited in the airport and airways trust fund.

During his years in the Senate, Senator King has fought for Maine’s rural airports, which play a vital role in facilitating economic activity and providing rural Maine people with access to emergency medicine. In October 2018, Senator King applauded the passage of bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for five years. The legislation includes an amendment introduced by Senators King and Susan Collins (R-Maine) that requires any future evaluations of airport master plans take into account the role airports play in supporting evacuations related to medical emergencies or natural disasters. Last month, Senator King focused his monthly podcast on the quality of rural healthcare and ways to reach more people in rural states. The podcast featured U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Kris Doody, CEO of Cary Medical Center in Caribou.

Full text of the bill can be found here. A section by section of the bill can be found here.


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