Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee adopted two amendments offered by Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-Westlake Village) to the Aviation Innovation, Reform and Reauthorization Act (AIRR Act/H.R. 4441). The bill will reauthorize Federal Aviation Administration programs, including the Airport Improvement Program, address aviation safety, improve the aircraft certification process, and privatize air traffic control services.

Brownley’s amendments would increase penalties for amateur UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) operators who recklessly interfere with wildfire fighting and ensure training for airline workers to appropriately identify and report suspected human trafficking.

“I am so pleased that the Committee adopted my amendments to improve wildfire fighting and to stop human trafficking,” said Rep. Julia Brownley. “While I have serious concerns about the impact the legislation will have on air traffic control services in Ventura County, as a Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I will work with my colleagues to advance the many bi-partisan provisions in the bill, and ensure Ventura County’s airports remain safe and secure.”

The Brownley amendments to the FAA Reauthorization bill are as follows:

  • Increase penalty for reckless UAS use that interferes with wildfire response: According to the U.S. Forest Service, firefighting suppression efforts were interrupted at least 18 times last year because of unauthorized UAS interference. In 10 of those events, aerial firefighting operations were delayed or halted. Twice, firefighting aircraft had to take evasive action to avoid a collision. This amendment would protect firefighters and help them control wildfires by increasing the maximum fine for the reckless use of an UAS.  The fine for reckless UAS use in a wildfire would be increased from $1,100 to $25,000.
  • Training to prevent human trafficking at airports: Human traffickers with global networks often use commercial flights to transport their victims. The amendment would require that frontline airline employees receive training on recognizing and responding to potential human trafficking cases. This would help ensure that suspicious behavior
    can be properly reported to and investigated by trained law enforcement officials.

Ventura County is home to two general aviation airports in Camarillo and Oxnard. Congresswoman Brownley continues to work with local stakeholders to ensure local interests are taken into account as the FAA reauthorization bill moves forward. Ventura County’s airports contribute over $300 million annually to the local economy, including supporting local businesses, moving more than 70 tons of cargo, and supporting 2,500 local jobs.

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