November 07, 2023

Duckworth Underscores Need to Improve Aviation Safety, Defends DCA Perimeter Rule While Chairing Commerce Committee Hearing

Senator also secures commitment from NTSB nominee to implement school bus safety recommendations she has worked to enact


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – While chairing today’s U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation (CST) Committee hearing, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) reiterated several of her aviation safety priorities, including her opposition to adding more slots for additional commercial flight take-offs and landings at an already crowded Reagan National Airport (DCA) that could result in more delays and reduced safety. Duckworth also pressed Samuel H. Slater, nominee to be a member of the MWAA Board, to improve accessibility at DCA and Dulles International Airport (IAD) so all Americans traveling to the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia (DMV) region can do so safely and conveniently. Additionally, she secured support from J. Todd Inman, nominee to be a member of NTSB, for implementing NTSB’s school bus safety recommendations—which are mirrored in Duckworth’s School Bus Safety Act. Video of Senator Duckworth’s opening remarks and questioning is available using the link here and here.

“As Chair of the Aviation Subcommittee and as a pilot, I am committed to making sure safety is our top transportation priority and fighting against the normal tendencies to grow complacent and cut corners for convenience—such as ongoing proposals to add more slots at DCA,” said Duckworth. “Amid an alarming spike in dangerous runway incursions and near-misses, it is the wrong time to test the limits at a busy international airport that is already operating at capacity. Whether it’s upholding the perimeter rule, improving aviation accessibility or strengthening school bus safety, I look forward to working with today’s nominees to do everything we can to keep all Americans safe—no matter their age or ability.”

As one of the authors of the bipartisan FAA Reauthorization Act of 2023, Duckworth successfully secured several provisions that will improve safety for consumers, expand the aviation workforce and enhance protections for travelers with disabilities. As introduced, the FAA reauthorization bill would extend FAA’s authorities through the Fiscal Year 2028 without degrading pilot certification standards.

Throughout FAA reauthorization negotiations, Duckworth has been a fierce, outspoken advocate of the 1,500-hour rule to help keep the flying public safe, delivering a powerful speech on the Senate floor on the importance of upholding the strong pilot certification standards and warning her colleagues of the deadly consequences of complacency in aviation. Duckworth’s efforts on this follow a recent surge in disturbing near-misses and close calls that prompted the FAA to hold an unprecedented safety summit and spurred an ongoing investigations by the NTSB.