A Progress Report on the State of America's Aviation Industry

Click above to watch my round of questioning from our Transportation subcommittee hearing this week.

Aviation is crucial to our nation's economy, providing millions of American jobs and responsible for more than a trillion dollars in economic activity each year. This is why it's important we ensure our system is working as efficiently, effectively and as safely as possible.

Thursday, we held a hearing in the Transportation subcommittee on Aviation to get a progress report from industry professionals on just that: the current state of our nation's aviation industry.

In America, we have more airports and produce more aviation activity than elsewhere in the world. It's clear that our system is among the best on the globe. However, our nation's success has been built on the mantra that the status quo is unacceptable.

Witnesses at our hearing included:

Honorable Susan Kurland, Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs, Department of Transportation | Written Testimony

Mr. Nicholas E. Calio, President and CEO, Airlines for America | Written Testimony

Mr. Mark Brewer, Airport Director, Manchester-Boston Regional Airport; Chair, American Association of Airport Executives | Written Testimony

Mr. Peter Bunce, President and CEO, General Aviation Manufacturers Association | Written Testimony

Mr. Edward M. Bolen, President and CEO, National Business Aviation Association | Written Testimony

Mr. Edward Wytkind, President, Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO | Written Testimony

One of the most troublesome issues discussed were delays and costs with implementing NEXTGEN, satellite-based navigation systems replacing our existing 1950’s based instrument systems. Other topics included the proliferation of ancillary fees for things like checked bags and premium seating, as well as a discussion on pricing transparency and how federal taxes can be as high as 21% of airline ticket prices.

To hear what I asked our witness panel during the hearing (including questions I had about the future of flying and the possibility of cell phone use being approved on commercial flights), click here.

Phones on a Plane

Following the FAA’s recent announcement that allows the use of small personal electronics in flight and the FCC’s announcement that they are looking at allowing cell phone use in flight, Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) introduced H.R. 3676, a bill that would ban cell phone calls on a plane.

This is a tough issue. As a frequent flyer between Texas and Washington, D.C., I can’t imagine spending 4 hours on a plane in a middle seat between two people who won’t put down their phones. I also got a chuckle out of the BuzzFeed story on the "Top 10 Phone Conversations You Really Don’t Want To Hear On A Plane." I am also a strong believer in that the government needs to stay out of our lives whenever possible and that, as long as there is no safety or technical issues, each airline should be able to make their own rules about cell phones. What do you think?

Do you think the government should ban phone calls on commercial airliners? Join the conversation by taking my survey here.




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