Congress has passed the FAA Reauthorization Bill, which funds the Federal Aviation Administration for five more years at $69 billion.
There are several key items in the bill around passenger rights, including a focus on legroom. While the standard size of an airline seat has not been announced, the bill will set minimum dimensions for legroom on commercial flights.
A major element of the bill is the creation of a national in-flight sexual assault task force. Other safety measures include forever banning knives on flights and secondary cockpit barriers.
The bill bans bumping passengers off planes they have already boarded. Plus, more rights for disabled passengers. It also includes a ban on e-cigarettes and voice calls.
The Flight Attendant union applauded a 10-hour minimum rest provision in the bill. The union released a statement saying, "This bill closes a safety loophole while improving Flight Attendant health and achieving equal minimum rest with our flight deck counterparts."
The bill does not include additional funding for expansion at Sea-Tac International Airport, but there is money set aside to study the effect of airport noise at Sea-Tac as it relates to human health.
Washington state Senator Maria Cantwell, as the top Democrat on the Senate Aviation Subcommittee, was a driver in getting the bi-partisan legislation through.
The bill now heads to President Trump's desk to be signed into law.
Summary of AFA Safety Initiatives included in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018:
- 10-hours Minimum Rest and a FRMP for Flight Attendants
- No Knives on Planes Ever Again
- Ban of Voice Calls on Planes
- Emotional Support and Service Animal Standards
- Air Quality: Technologies to Combat Contaminated Bleed Air
- Protect Customer Service agents from assaults
- Cabin Cyber Security Vulnerabilities
- Secondary Cockpit Barriers
- Safe Transport of Lithium Batteries
- Study on Cabin Evacuation Certification (including cabin configuration)
- Increase Civil Penalties for Crew Interference from $25,000 to $35,000
- Banning Electronic Cigarette Smoking on Planes
- Congressional Focus on Addressing Sexual Misconduct on Planes
- Establish National Inflight Sexual Misconduct Task Force
- Require DOJ to Establish Reporting Process for Sexual Misconduct
- Prioritize Support for Flight Attendant Drug and Alcohol Program (FADAP)
- Requiring Privacy for Nursing in the Airport
- Evaluation and Update of Emergency Medical Kit Contents
- Oxygen Mask Design Study
- Develop Guidance for Non-Toxic Prevention of Transporting Insects
- Exit Row Evaluation and Verification
- Required notification of Insecticide use
- Promoting Women in Aviation
- TSA Authorization
- Continue Crewmember Self-Defense Training
- NTSB Reauthorization
- Improve Consumer Notification of Insecticide Use
- Expanded Human Trafficking Training for Airline Personnel
- Authorization of Essential Air Service