[Senate Hearing 116-501]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]

                                                       S. Hrg. 116-501




                               BEFORE A

                          SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE



                             FIRST SESSION


                            SPECIAL HEARING

                     JULY 31, 2019--WASHINGTON, DC


         Printed for the use of the Committee on Appropriations


       Available via the World Wide Web: https://www.govinfo.gov

                    U.S. GOVERNMENT PUBLISHING OFFICE                    
46-000 PDF                 WASHINGTON : 2021                     

                  RICHARD C. SHELBY, Alabama, Chairman

MITCH McCONNELL, Kentucky            PATRICK J. LEAHY, Vermont, Vice 
LAMAR ALEXANDER, Tennessee               Chairman
SUSAN M. COLLINS, Maine              PATTY MURRAY, Washington
LISA MURKOWSKI, Alaska               DIANNE FEINSTEIN, California
LINDSEY GRAHAM, South Carolina       RICHARD J. DURBIN, Illinois
ROY BLUNT, Missouri                  JACK REED, Rhode Island
JERRY MORAN, Kansas                  JON TESTER, Montana
JOHN HOEVEN, North Dakota            TOM UDALL, New Mexico
JOHN BOOZMAN, Arkansas               JEANNE SHAHEEN, New Hampshire
JAMES LANKFORD, Oklahoma             CHRISTOPHER A. COONS, Delaware
STEVE DAINES, Montana                BRIAN SCHATZ, Hawaii
JOHN KENNEDY, Louisiana              TAMMY BALDWIN, Wisconsin
MARCO RUBIO, Florida                 CHRISTOPHER MURPHY, Connecticut
CINDY HYDE-SMITH, Mississippi        JOE MANCHIN, West Virginia
                                     CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, Maryland

                    Shannon H. Hines, Staff Director
              Charles E. Kieffer, Minority Staff Director


  Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and 
                            Related Agencies

                  SUSAN M. COLLINS, Maine, Chairwoman
RICHARD C. SHELBY, Alabama, (ex      JACK REED, Rhode Island, Ranking
    officio)                         PATTY MURRAY, Washington
LAMAR ALEXANDER, Tennessee           RICHARD J. DURBIN, Illinois
ROY BLUNT, Missouri                  DIANNE FEINSTEIN, California
JOHN BOOZMAN, Arkansas               CHRISTOPHER A. COONS, Delaware
STEVE DAINES, Montana                CHRISTOPHER MURPHY, Connecticut
LINDSEY GRAHAM, South Carolina       JOE MANCHIN, West Virginia
JOHN HOEVEN, North Dakota

                           Professional Staff

                             Clare Doherty
                               Gus Maples
                              Rajat Mathur
                            LaShawnda Smith
                             Jason Woolwine
                             Courtney Young
                         Dabney Hegg (Minority)
                          Jessi Axe (Minority)
                      Christina Monroe (Minority)

                         Administrative Support

                            Elisabeth Coats
                            C O N T E N T S


Opening Statement of Senator Susan M. Collins....................    1 

Opening Statement of Senator Jack Reed...........................    2
Summary Statement of Hon. Carl E. Burleson, Acting Deputy 
  Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration.................    4
    Prepared Statement of Carl E. Burleson.......................    5
        Aviation Safety..........................................    6
        UAS Integration..........................................    7
        UAS Rulemaking...........................................    8
        UAS Remote Identification................................    8
        UAS and the Airport Environment..........................    9
        Airports and Infrastructure..............................    9
        AIP Investments..........................................    9
        Streamlining Certain Types of Development................   10
        Airport Safety...........................................   10
        Conclusion...............................................   11
Statement of Ali Bahrami, Associate Administrator for Aviation 
  Safety, Federal Aviation Administration........................   11
Statement of Winsome Lenfert, Deputy Associate Administrator for 
  Airports, Federal Aviation Administration......................   12
Statement of Angela Stubblefield, Deputy Associate Administrator 
  for Security/Hazardous Materials Safety, Federal Aviation 
  Administration.................................................   13
Additional Committee Questions...................................   37
Questions Submitted by Senator Susan M. Collins..................   38
    Airport Improvement Grants...................................   38
    UAS Integration..............................................   38
    UAS Traffic Management.......................................   40
    Cybersecurity................................................   41
Questions Submitted by Senator Richard C. Shelby.................   42
Questions Submitted by Senator John Boozman......................   42
Questions Submitted by Senator Steve Daines......................   44
Questions Submitted by Senator Jack Reed.........................   45
    Counter Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS).......................   46
    Emergency Medical Kits (EMKs) and opioid overdoses...........   47
    PFAS/Airport Firefighting Foam...............................   47
    FAA Network Modernization....................................   48
Questions Submitted by Senator Dianne Feinstein..................   49
    Noise Disruption.............................................   49
    Safety Certification.........................................   49
    FAA and Boeing Relationship..................................   50
    Fuel Efficiency..............................................   52
Questions Submitted by Senator Richard Durbin....................   52


                        WEDNESDAY, JULY 31, 2019

                                       U.S. Senate,
           Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations,
                                                    Washington, DC.
    The subcommittee met at 9:45 a.m., in room SD-192, Dirksen 
Senate Office Building, Hon. Susan Collins (chairman) 
    Present: Senators Collins, Boozman, Capito, Hoeven, Reed, 
Murray, Durbin, and Manchin.



             opening statement of senator susan m. collins

    Senator Collins. The committee will come to order. Today, 
our subcommittee is holding an oversight hearing on the Federal 
Aviation Administration. I am very pleased to be joined by 
Senator Jack Reed, the subcommittee's ranking member. Senator 
Capito is here right from the start, and I am sure we will be 
joined by others.
    The FAA is a $17 billion agency with 44,000 employees who 
are responsible for virtually every aspect of aviation in our 
country, including the safety of commercial airlines, general 
aviation, and cargo aircraft. Every day, FAA's air traffic 
controllers are responsible for more than 44,000 flights and 
2.7 million airline passengers across more than 29 million 
square miles of airspace.
    Over the last year, much-needed attention has been focused 
on the crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Air Flight 
302. Serious questions have been raised about the effectiveness 
of the FAA's regulatory framework. For the sake of the 346 
victims and their families, we need to ensure that these 
accidents are thoroughly investigated, their causes identified, 
and their solutions implemented.
    Unfortunately, at this point, we do not yet have the 
conclusive results of the two crash investigations and cannot 
say definitively why these terrible accidents occurred. For 
these types of catastrophic events, however, there is rarely 
just one cause. There is almost always a cascade of errors or 
failures that lead to an airplane crash.
    Nevertheless, since the second crash in March, we continue 
to hear of more problems with FAA's certification of the 737 
MAX aircraft. A New York Times article over the weekend shed 
additional light on some of the problems with the FAA's 
Organizational Designation Authorization, or ODA, program. In 
particular, the press story details instances in which FAA 
managers appeared to be more concerned with Boeing's production 
timeline rather than the safety recommendations of its own 
    These stories are particularly damaging for the leadership 
of FAA's safety oversight. The ongoing investigations by the 
Inspector General and the National Transportation Safety Board 
are looking at all aspects of the MAX aircraft, including the 
certification of the MCAS, (Manoeuvring Characteristics 
Augmentation System) the installation of the angle-of-attack 
sensors, the pilot training, the level of automation in the 
aircraft, and the human factors related to the design of the 
    While the MAX aircraft accidents deserve much of our 
attention this year, it is critical that the FAA continues to 
make progress in improving air travel in our Nation's congested 
airspace. Our Nation's airspace continues to become more 
complex with new players in the aviation industry, such as 
commercial space operators and unmanned aircraft systems, or 
    During the last two years, this subcommittee has provided 
substantial funding to improve safety, increase the efficiency 
of air travel, and modernize the infrastructure at our Nation's 
airports, and I look forward to hearing from our witnesses on 
how these investments have improved air travel for the public.
    The NextGen programs, like Performance-Based Navigation and 
Time-Based Flow Management, will improve air travel by reducing 
flight times. Planes are burning less fuel, emitting fewer 
emissions, and creating less noise through other NextGen 
    By January 1st of next year, all commercial aircraft and 
most general aviation will be equipped with Automatic Dependent 
Surveillance-Broadcast, or ADS-B, allowing us to transition 
away from ground-based radar to more precise GPS tracking. With 
ADS-B, pilots can see other aircraft in the sky, pinpoint 
hazardous weather and terrain, and receive important flight 
information. ADS-B will also improve the efficiency of our 
skies by allowing planes to fly safely with reduced separation 
and also enhance safety on the tarmac by reducing the risk of 
runway incursions.
    Turning to our Nation's airports, I would point to the $1.5 
billion in additional funding that this subcommittee has 
provided for our Nation's airports over the last two years. 
This funding has been particularly beneficial for small, rural 
airports, such as those in--such as the one in Rangeley, Maine, 
which was awarded an $11 million grant for a runway extension 
project. With the longer runway, LifeFlight of Maine, an air 
ambulance system, will be able to bring its twin turboprop 
aircraft to provide air medical services for communities in an 
area that has access to few medical providers.
    I look forward to hearing from our witnesses on all of 
these key issues this morning, but particularly the issues of 
safety. Let me now turn to Senator Reed for his opening 

                 opening statement of senator jack reed

    Senator Reed. Thank you, Chairman Collins.
    This is a timely hearing, given the unresolved safety 
issues that have led to two fatal airline crashes and the 
grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX. Every possible measure must be 
taken to ensure the aircraft is safe before it is allowed to 
return to the skies. It is critical that Boeing and the FAA get 
this right in order to restore public confidence in both the 
aircraft and the certification and oversight process. Failure 
to do so will jeopardize continued U.S. leadership in the 
aviation sector and FAA standing as the gold standard for 
    As the chairman indicated, a New York Times investigative 
report released last week describes, in their words, a broken 
regulatory process that effectively neutered the oversight 
authority of the FAA. You can see the deference granted to 
industry reflected plainly in a joint industry-FAA product 
certification guide published in 2017, which highlights ``How 
an Applicant and the FAA can begin a transition to a state 
where there is progressively less direct involvement of the FAA 
in the compliance activities of the Applicant.''
    In its article, the Times goes on to say that at a crucial 
moment in the MAX's development, the agency operated in the 
background, mainly monitoring Boeing's progress and checking 
paperwork. Boeing was treated as a client, with FAA officials 
making decisions based on the company's deadlines and budget. 
FAA engineers found they had little power, even when they did 
raise concerns. These allegations are grave and speak to the 
need for a culture change that rebalances the relationship 
between regulator and industry.
    The need for a culture change appears to extend beyond the 
FAA's certification program. The DOD Inspector General is 
raising alarms on the FAA's oversight of the air carrier 
maintenance program. Specifically, the IG raised concerns that 
the FAA has shifted its safety strategy from emphasizing 
enforcement actions to a more relaxed compliance assistance 
model to help air carriers address the root causes for 
noncompliance of safety regulations. In doing so, the FAA's 
current guidance allows inspectors to close safety compliance 
actions before validating that the corrective action has been 
implemented and is effective.
    FAA also lacks centralized database for inspectors to 
identify, track, and monitor safety violations and compliance. 
This leaves a huge gap in FAA oversight of air carrier 
maintenance activities.
    To add to the many challenges the FAA faces today, there 
are very few technologies that are developed as rapidly as 
unmanned aviation systems, or UAS, or drones. Drones are 
changing the way we do business, helping farmers monitor their 
crops, and improving the way we inspect pipelines and 
railroads, and have the potential to revolutionize the delivery 
of goods in this country.
    These are exciting developments, but there is also growing 
concern about the incidents being reported in the news, whether 
it is a drone flying dangerously close to a passenger airplane 
or a drone with a camera flying over someone else's private 
    The FAA needs to establish clear rules of the air to safely 
integrate this technology into our airspace, and there is a lot 
of catching up to do. UAS technology is evolving so quickly, 
and we need to know that the FAA is keeping up and responding 
    I look forward to hearing about your progress in this issue 
area, particularly in mitigating the risk of drones in and 
around airports. I know the Blue Ribbon Panel on UAS Mitigation 
at Airports interim report was just released, and I am 
interested to hear your reactions. I look forward to hearing 
from all of our witnesses today.
    The FAA is certainly facing many challenges ahead in an 
increasingly complex airspace. I am hopeful that, with your 
leadership, we will sustain the leadership of the United States 
in having the safest, most efficient aviation system in the 
    Thank you, Madam Chairman.
    Senator Collins. Thank you, Senator Reed.
    I now want to turn to our panel of witnesses, all of whom 
are senior career officials of the FAA. We are joined today by 
Carl Burleson, the Acting Deputy Administrator of the FAA; Ali 
Bahrami, the Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety; 
Winsome Lenfert, the Deputy Associate Administrator for 
Airports; and Angela Stubblefield, the Deputy Administrator for 
Security and Hazardous Materials.
    Mr. Burleson, we will start with you.

               summary statement of hon. carl e. burleson

    Mr. Burleson. Thank you, Chairman Collins, Ranking Member 
Reed, and members of the subcommittee.
    Thank you for inviting us all to speak with you today to 
update you on the Federal Aviation Administration's work to 
fulfill its mission to provide the safest, most efficient 
airspace system in the world. We are committed to advancing the 
Administration and the Department of Transportation's 
priorities of creating a stronger infrastructure and 
maintaining American leadership in innovation, while ensuring 
safety and access for all users in the National Airspace 
System, or NAS.
    As Chairman Collins and Ranking Member Reed just noted, 
innovation is reshaping the NAS, and the pace of technological 
change is nothing short of amazing. Consider that we have 
approximately 1.4 million drones registered in less than 4 
years, flying taxis in experimental design or testing phase 
with major aerospace companies. We have proposed new rules to 
remove the red tape and streamline the testing process for a 
next generation of civil supersonic aircraft, and we have 
civilian space pioneers getting ready to take suborbital 
excursions offered by multiple startup space companies at 
nontraditional launch sites. That is a challenge for the FAA, 
and one we welcome.
    How do we introduce these new entrants while simultaneously 
modernizing the National Airspace and maintaining safety and 
access for all users? Congress provided us a reliable 
foundation to do this through the FAA Reauthorization and the 
Consolidated Appropriations Act, and we are working diligently 
to accomplish the directives set forth in these bills.
    The safe integration of UAS and commercial space operations 
are a key priority for the FAA. We are adjusting processes and 
practices to accommodate more of these operations without 
compromising safety. We are taking concrete steps to fulfill 
this mission.
    For UAS, we have deployed the prototype Low Altitude 
Authorization and Notification Capability, or LAANC, at nearly 
300 air traffic facilities, covering about 500 airports and 
more than 100 contract towers. LAANC allows UAS operators to 
gain airspace authorization in a matter of seconds, compared to 
weeks previously. LAANC is a good first step, as we progress 
toward automated air traffic management for drones.
    We took another concrete step for commercial space 
integration by opening the Challenger Room inside the Air 
Traffic Control System Command Center, where Joint Space 
Operations Group assessed proposed launch and re-entry 
operations that have an impact on the Nation's airspace. This 
greater operational visibility, coupled with the space data 
integrator that we are developing, will allow us to safely 
reduce the amount of airspace that must be closed to other 
users during launch and re-entry.
    In addition to our UAS and space integration activities, we 
are also operationalizing NextGen Technologies, including ADS-B 
Out and Terminal Flight Data Manager. ADS-B Out, which will be 
required for aircraft operating in most U.S. airspace on 
January 1, 2020, provides surveillance information that is more 
accurate than radar, and more cost effective, especially in 
remote areas like the Gulf of Mexico. To date, roughly 80 
percent of the U.S. airline fleet, and more than 60,000 general 
aviation aircraft have been equipped.
    We expect to start operational testing of Terminal Flight 
Data Manager, or TFDM, this summer. This will allow us to build 
a virtual departure queue at airports so flights can wait at 
the gate or a non-movement area with their engines off until 
they have a direct route to the runway. By moving electronic 
data exchange, TFDM will also save time for our controllers in 
the tower cab by eliminating certain manual processes.
    We are also working to make sure a new generation of 
Americans are ready to enter the aerospace workforce. In fact, 
one of the highest priorities at the FAA is to bring new, well-
trained women and men into the aviation system. We have 
established an Aviation Workforce Steering Committee to focus 
on broadening the pipeline of young people interested in 
aviation careers, enhancing the proficiency of training and 
targeting skills we need in the future, and partnering with 
academia and industry to achieve these outcomes.
    In conclusion, let me reiterate that the men and women of 
the FAA are committed to ensuring the United States is the gold 
standard in aviation safety. We would be the first to 
acknowledge we are not perfect. But whether a technician 
maintaining power systems at a facility in New Hampshire, a 
safety inspector helping educate the next generation of pilots 
in Florida, or a controller working traffic in Chicago, FAA's 
employees are not complacent about their mission. They work 
every day to ensure the safety of the American traveling 
public. That is why we are confident, with the support of this 
committee and the robust engagement of our stakeholders, we can 
safely achieve innovation necessary to continue America's 
global leadership.
    Thank you.
    [The statement follows:]
                 Prepared Statement of Carl E. Burleson
    Chairman Collins, Ranking Member Reed, Members of the Subcommittee.
    Thank you for inviting me to speak with you today to update you on 
the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) work to fulfill its mission 
to provide the safest, most efficient airspace system in the world. The 
FAA is committed to advancing the Administration's and the Department 
of Transportation's priorities of creating stronger infrastructure that 
supports a growing economy and continuing American leadership in 
innovation while maintaining safety and access for all users of the 
National Airspace System (NAS). Our employees are working diligently to 
accomplish the directives Congress set forth in the FAA Reauthorization 
Act of 2018 and the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019, which 
together provide a reliable foundation for the FAA to achieve these 
objectives. Accompanying me today are Ali Bahrami, Associate 
Administrator for Aviation Safety; Angela H. Stubblefield, Deputy 
Associate Administrator for Security and Hazardous Materials Safety; 
and Winsome Lenfert, Deputy Associate Administrator for Airports. With 
their help, I would like to highlight for you some of our activities in 
these specific areas: aviation safety, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) 
integration, and airports and infrastructure.
                            aviation safety
    Safety is the core of the Federal Aviation Administration's mission 
and our top priority. With the support of this Committee, we have 
worked tirelessly to take a more proactive, datadriven approach to 
oversight that prioritizes safety above all else inside the FAA and 
within the aviation community that we regulate. The result of this 
approach is that the United States has the safest air transportation 
system in the world. Since 1997, the risk of a fatal commercial 
aviation accident in the United States has been cut by 94 percent. With 
respect to commercial space transportation, since 1995, there have been 
a total of 388 licensed or permitted launches and reentries (19 so far 
in 2019), all without any fatalities, serious injuries, or significant 
property damage to the general public. In the past 10 years, there has 
been one passenger fatality on a U.S. commercial airline in over 90 
million flights. But one fatality is one too many, and a healthy safety 
culture requires continuous attention and commitment to continuous 
    In order to maintain the safest air transportation system in the 
world, the FAA has evolved from a prescriptive and more reactive 
approach to its safety oversight responsibilities to one that is 
performance-based, proactive, centered on managing risk, and focused on 
continuous improvement. This approach to safety oversight relies on 
access to data and requires the open and transparent exchange of 
information. We know that it takes collaboration, communication, and 
common safety objectives to allow the FAA and the aviation community to 
identify system hazards and to implement safety solutions. This 
approach gives us knowledge that we would not otherwise have about 
safety events and risks. Sharing safety issues, trends, and lessons 
learned is critical to recognizing potential risks in the system. The 
more data we have, the more we can learn about the system, which in 
turn allows us to better manage and improve the system.
    The FAA's grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX airplane placed a 
spotlight on safety and our approach to oversight of those we regulate. 
With respect to the certification of the 737 MAX, the facts are these: 
it took 5 years to certify the 737 MAX. Boeing applied for 
certification in January 2012. The certification was completed in March 
2017. During those 5 years, FAA safety engineers and test pilots put in 
110,000 hours of work, and they flew or supported 297 test flights. 
After certification of an aircraft design, the FAA continues to oversee 
the aircraft's production and operation. As we obtain pertinent 
information, identify potential risk, or learn of a system failure, we 
analyze it, determine how best to mitigate the risk, and require 
operators to implement the mitigation.
    This approach to safety and fact-based, data-driven decisionmaking 
has been the FAA's guiding principle in our response to the Lion Air 
and Ethiopian Airlines accidents. Once the FAA had data showing 
similarities between the two accidents that warranted further 
investigation of the possibility of a shared cause, the FAA made the 
decision to ground all 737 MAX airplanes operated by U.S. airlines or 
in U.S. territory pending further investigation.
    As part of the FAA's commitment to continuous improvement, we both 
welcome and invite review of our processes and procedures. A number of 
reviews and audits have been initiated to look at different aspects of 
the 737 MAX certification. After the FAA grounded the 737 MAX, 
Secretary Chao asked the Department of Transportation's Inspector 
General to conduct an audit of the certification for the 737 MAX, with 
the goal of compiling an objective and detailed factual history of the 
activities that resulted in the certification of the 737 MAX aircraft. 
Secretary Chao also announced the establishment of a Special Committee 
to review the FAA's procedures for the certification of new aircraft, 
including the 737 MAX. The Special Committee to Review FAA's Aircraft 
Certification Process is an independent body whose findings and 
recommendations will be presented directly to the Secretary and the FAA 
    The FAA also established a Joint Authorities Technical Review 
(JATR) to conduct a comprehensive review of the certification of the 
automated flight control system on the Boeing 737 MAX. The JATR is 
chaired by former NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart and comprises a team 
of experts from the FAA, National Aeronautics and Space Administration 
(NASA), and the aviation authorities of Australia, Brazil, Canada, 
China, the European Union, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, and the United 
Arab Emirates. Completion of the JATR's work is not a prerequisite for 
returning the 737 MAX to service; however, the FAA will consider the 
findings and recommendations of each of the participants as we 
continually review our processes.
    Additionally, the FAA met with safety representatives of the three 
U.S.-based commercial airlines that have the Boeing 737 MAX in their 
fleets, as well as the pilot unions for those airlines. This meeting 
was an opportunity for the FAA to hear individual views from operators 
and pilots of the 737 MAX as the agency evaluates what needs to be done 
before the FAA makes a decision to return the aircraft to service in 
the United States. In keeping with the FAA's longstanding cooperation 
with its international partners, the FAA also recently hosted a meeting 
of Directors General of civil aviation authorities from around the 
world to discuss the FAA's activities toward ensuring the safe return 
of the 737 MAX to service. We continue to be in frequent communication 
with the international aviation safety community and are working 
closely with our counterparts to address their concerns and keep them 
informed of progress.
    The FAA also initiated a multi-agency Technical Advisory Board 
(TAB) review of Boeing's Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation 
System (MCAS) software update and system safety assessment in order to 
determine sufficiency. The TAB consists of a team of experts from the 
U.S. Air Force, NASA, Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, and 
the FAA. None of the TAB experts have been involved in any aspect of 
the Boeing 737 MAX certification. The TAB is charged with evaluating 
Boeing and FAA efforts related to the software update and its 
integration into the flight control system. The TAB will identify 
issues where further investigation is required prior to approval of the 
design change. The JATR is looking broadly at the original 
certification of the 737 MAX flight control system, while the TAB is 
evaluating Boeing's proposed technical solutions related to the two 
accidents. The TAB's recommendations will directly inform the FAA's 
decision concerning the 737 MAX fleet's return to service.
    The FAA is following a thorough process, not a prescribed timeline, 
for returning the 737 MAX to passenger service. We continue to evaluate 
Boeing's software modification to the MCAS, and we are still developing 
necessary training requirements. The 737 MAX will not return to service 
for U.S. carriers and in U.S. airspace until the FAA's analysis of the 
facts and technical data indicate that it is safe to do so.
                            uas integration
    The FAA's commitment to global leadership in aviation is equally 
evident in the area of UAS integration. The steady development and 
expansion of UAS has created a dynamic change in aviation that we have 
not seen since the dawn of the jet age. The FAA is committed to 
supporting this change and to working with the UAS community to ensure 
that this technology is integrated into the NAS safely and securely. 
UAS offer expanded capabilities in aviation with a fast pace of 
innovation and increasing volume of operations. For example, the 
progression of UAS innovation and the change in product cycles can 
generally be measured in months, not years. Similarly, the volume of 
UAS operations is outpacing manned aircraft. Currently, there are 
nearly four times as many UAS as registered manned aircraft.
    The new dynamics that UAS bring to the NAS redouble our focus on 
the safety of all aircraft operations as the FAA's first priority. An 
ongoing challenge to UAS integration is the potential for conflict 
between manned and unmanned aircraft. We continue to engage in outreach 
to UAS operators and the public at large to educate current and 
prospective drone users about their safety responsibilities. Efforts 
such as the ``Know Before You Fly'' information campaign have 
encouraged UAS operators to understand the rules and responsibilities 
for flying an aircraft in the NAS. This campaign and the FAA's related 
work on the ``B4UFLY'' mobile application are bearing fruit. The annual 
rate of increase of pilot reports about UAS operating in places where 
they should not be is dropping by 50 percent each year--while the 
number of UAS operating in the airspace is increasing.
    The UAS Integration Pilot Program (IPP) \1\ also has been a crucial 
step in accelerating the Department of Transportation's and FAA's UAS 
integration efforts. Through the IPP, nine different communities across 
the country are working to identify ways to balance local and national 
interests. The IPP is a case study in communications, security, 
privacy, and data collection. The experience gained and the data 
collected from the IPP will help ensure the United States remains the 
global leader in safe UAS integration and fully realizes the economic 
and societal benefits of this technology. In fact, the IPP is already 
paying dividends on the investment. Recently, the FAA granted the first 
air carrier certification to a commercial drone operator for package 
deliveries in rural Blacksburg, Virginia. Although the regulatory 
framework for broader drone operations is not complete, the IPP has 
helped to inform the FAA and drone operators of the extent to which 
operations can begin under existing rules.
    \1\ https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/presidential-
                             uas rulemaking
    The FAA currently is enabling safe UAS operations using existing 
rules, but we also understand the need to focus on enabling an ever-
expanding universe of UAS operations and capabilities. In order to 
allow for such operations to be conducted safely and securely, the FAA 
has moved forward with a number of regulatory initiatives. Together 
with the Department of Transportation's Office of the Secretary, the 
FAA recently published a proposed new rule on the operation of small 
UAS over people.\2\ The proposal seeks to mitigate safety risks without 
inhibiting technological and operational advances. The FAA also 
recently published an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking seeking 
public input to identify drone safety and security issues and explore 
ways to mitigate risks UAS may pose to other aircraft, people on the 
ground, or to national security.\3\ The FAA's security partners have 
helped to highlight some of the important security and public safety 
questions that must be addressed.
    \2\ https://www.Federalregister.gov/documents/2019/02/13/2019-
00732/operation-of-small-unmanned-aircraft- systems-over-people
    \3\ https://www.Federalregister.gov/documents/2019/02/13/2019-
00758/safe-and-secure-operations-of-small- unmanned-aircraft-systems
    Additionally, in February 2019, the FAA published an interim final 
rule on external marking requirements for small UAS.\4\ The rule 
requires small unmanned aircraft owners to display their unique 
identifier (registration number) on an external surface of the 
aircraft. Identifiers are assigned by the FAA upon completion of the 
registration process. Small unmanned aircraft owners are no longer 
permitted to enclose the FAA-issued registration number in a 
compartment. The FAA took this action to address concerns expressed by 
the law enforcement community and the FAA's interagency security 
partners regarding the risk a concealed explosive device poses to first 
responders who must open a compartment to attempt to find the small 
unmanned aircraft's registration number.
    \4\ https://www.Federalregister.gov/documents/2019/02/13/2019-
                       uas remote identification
    Going forward, the ability to remotely identify UAS operators will 
be a crucial stepping stone for UAS traffic management and will 
facilitate what we envision as high volume, safe, and secure low-
altitude UAS operations. Congress recognized the importance of remote 
identification when it enacted the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security 
Act of 2016. That Act laid the foundation for FAA's work with operators 
and our security partners to realize the importance of remote 
identification and to reach a consensus on how to address it. More 
recently, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 provided the FAA with 
additional authority to move ahead with work on universal registration 
and remote identification--both of which are critical to the success of 
commercial UAS operations and UAS integration more broadly.
    Remote identification is fundamental to both safety and security of 
drone operations. Remote identification will be necessary for routine 
beyond visual line-of-sight operations and operations over people, 
package delivery, operations in congested areas, and the continued safe 
operation of all aircraft in shared airspace. It will also be 
foundational for the advancement of automated passenger or cargo-
carrying air transportation--what is often referred to as Urban Air 
Mobility. From a security perspective, remote identification would 
enable us to connect a suspect UAS to its control station location and 
to identify the registered owner of a suspect UAS. With universal 
remote identification, the FAA, our national security partners, and 
state and local law enforcement will be better able to locate and 
identify a UAS operator, determine if a UAS is being operated in an 
unsafe, unauthorized, or criminal manner, and take appropriate action 
if necessary. The FAA is committed to establishing remote 
identification requirements as quickly as possible.
                    uas and the airport environment
    With the December 2018 protracted UAS disruption at Gatwick 
Airport, and other reported disruptions at airports around the world 
and in the United States, the FAA understands and shares the concerns 
of airlines, airport sponsors, and our security partners regarding the 
potential safety hazards and security threats presented by errant or 
malicious UAS, particularly in and around the airport environment. A 
number of airport sponsors have acquired or are pursuing possible 
acquisition of UAS detection systems for their airports. In an effort 
to make sure such activity is conducted in a safe and coordinated 
manner, in early May, the FAA sent informational correspondence to 
airport sponsors, which included information to support informed 
airport decisionmaking regarding the demonstration or installation of 
UAS detection systems at airports (including the legal uncertainties 
posed by certain UAS detection systems), answers to some frequently 
asked questions, and technical considerations that the FAA has used to 
assess the readiness of UAS detection technologies.\5\ The FAA wants to 
coordinate with airports that plan to use UAS detection systems to 
ensure deployment and use do not create interference or obstruction 
with other aviation safety and efficiency systems.
    \5\ https://www.faa.gov/airports/airport_safety/media/Updated-
    Given the events in Gatwick, there is no doubt about the 
significant operational and economic impacts a persistent UAS 
disruption can have in the airport environment and the need to be able 
not only to detect, identify, and track a disruptive UAS, but also to 
be able to take action to end the disruption. The FAA along with our 
Federal security partners have formulated a concept of operations 
(CONOPS) for a National Federal Response plan through which current 
Federal counter-UAS (C-UAS) authorities and existing Federal C-UAS 
equipment can be rapidly projected into a major U.S. airport 
experiencing a persistent operational disruption due to an unauthorized 
UAS operation. This CONOPS has been socialized with airport and airline 
associations and should be finalized for implementation soon.
                      airports and infrastructure
    Airport infrastructure in the United States, with 3,332 airports 
and 5,000 paved runways, supports our economic competitiveness and 
improves the safety and efficiency of our air transportation system. 
According to the FAA's most recent economic analysis, U.S. civil 
aviation accounts for $1.6 trillion in total economic activity and 
supports nearly 11 million jobs. The FAA's Office of Airports provides 
leadership in maintaining a safe, secure, efficient, environmentally 
sustainable, and fiscally responsible system of airports. Under 
Secretary Chao's leadership, the Department of Transportation and the 
FAA are delivering Airport Improvement Program (AIP) investments for 
the American people, who depend on reliable infrastructure. The FAA is 
also helping to streamline non-aeronautical development at airports and 
is increasing airport safety by addressing runway incursions and 
improving runway safety areas (RSA).
                            aip investments
    Through the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018, Congress 
provided an additional $1 million in supplemental funding for 
infrastructure grants. The FAA published a Federal Register notice on 
July 9, 2018 \6\, explaining the evaluation criteria and submission 
process for supplemental discretionary funding requests. The 
requirements under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 included: 
requiring the FAA to give ``priority consideration'' to specific types 
of airports (smaller and more rural airports); for non-primary 
airports, there is no local match required for the work covered by the 
grant; and requiring the FAA to obligate the supplemental funding by 
September 2020. After the FAA awarded an initial round of $205 million 
to 37 airports in 34 states in September 2018, airports in October 2018 
submitted additional funding requests for grant awards in fiscal years 
2019 or 2020. This project solicitation resulted in requests totaling 
$10.9 billion in funding.
    \6\ https://www.Federalregister.gov/documents/2018/07/09/2018-
14675/supplemental-guidance-on-the-airport- improvement-program-aip-
    On May 15, 2019, Secretary Chao announced the intent to award 
another $779 million in supplemental funding for infrastructure grants 
to 127 airports in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. This represented the 
final round of grants awarded under the supplemental funding provided 
in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018. Overall, about 88 percent 
of the supplemental funds went to airports meeting the statutory 
criteria for ``Priority Consideration'' and more than $430 million went 
to non-primary airports. Recipients of the selected grants will still 
need to meet any remaining required approvals. Selected projects 
include runway reconstruction and rehabilitation, as well as new 
construction or rehabilitation of taxiways, aprons, and terminals. The 
construction and equipment supported by this funding increase airports' 
safety, emergency response capabilities, and capacity, and could 
support further potential growth and development within each airport's 
region. The FAA is currently working through the normal Airports 
Capital Improvement Plan (ACIP) process to identify and evaluate 
potential projects for the $500 million in supplemental funds 
appropriated in fiscal year 2019.
    With regard to the total $3.18 billion in regular fiscal year 2019 
AIP funding for airports across the United States, Secretary Chao has 
announced three allotments totaling almost $1.8 billion in grants 
awarded for over 900 airports. Some notable examples of the grant 
awards include:
    $11 million for reconstruction of Runway 5/23 and mitigation of 
factors contributing to runway incursions in Des Moines, Iowa; $10.4 
million for construction of an aircraft rescue and firefighting 
building and acquisition of two aircraft rescue and firefighting 
vehicles to enhance airport safety in Birmingham, Alabama; $3.1 million 
for runway rehabilitation in Charleston, West Virginia; $2.7 million 
for mitigation of airport noise in New Haven and East Haven,
    Connecticut; and $2 million for rehabilitation of a general 
aviation apron used for aircraft parking in Helena, Montana.
               streamlining certain types of development
    The Department of Transportation and the FAA are also working to 
streamline project reviews and remove unnecessary barriers to 
development. Section 163 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 
provided a framework for the FAA to determine that certain types of 
proposed development projects no longer trigger a need for formal FAA 
review and approval. To date, the FAA has received over 40 requests for 
determinations under section 163 and has issued 25 determinations. Some 
examples of projects receiving determinations under section 163 are the 
sale of 11.8 acres of airport land for development of a $37 million 
facility in the Purdue University-affiliated Discovery Park District in 
Lafayette, Indiana; and the long-term lease and construction of 
industrial warehouse flex facilities on 27 acres of land acquired with 
Airport Development Aid Program \7\ funds in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 
Because formal FAA review and approval is not required for these 
projects, they may be able to begin construction more quickly.
    \7\ A forerunner to the current Airport Improvement Program.
                             airport safety
    The FAA also is engaged in several successful efforts to improve 
safety at our nation's airports. Runway incursions, which include wrong 
runway landings and takeoffs, are a top airport safety concern for the 
FAA. Research has shown that airport geometry can contribute to runway 
incursions. As a result, the FAA has provided airports with updated 
guidance on recommended taxiway layouts.\8\
    \8\ Advisory Circular 150/5300-13, ``Airport Design'' and 
Engineering Brief Number 75, ``Incorporation of Runway Incursion 
Prevention into Taxiway and Apron Design'' available at www.faa.gov/
    A research study conducted in fiscal year 2012 identified 140 
locations with nonstandard geometry and a high incidence of runway 
incursions using data from fiscal year 2008 through fiscal year 2012. 
As a result, the FAA launched the Runway Incursion Mitigation (RIM) 
program in fiscal year 2015 to help mitigate the nonstandard geometry 
at these locations and ultimately reduce the number of runway 
incursions. The FAA maintains a RIM database, which is updated annually 
with new data.
    Currently, there are 128 RIM locations at 77 airports. Airports can 
utilize a variety of mitigation strategies to eliminate nonstandard 
geometry configurations and reduce the likelihood of pilot confusion 
and ultimately, runway incursions. Airports often use a combination of 
mitigation strategies for RIM locations, which can include changes to 
airport geometry, lights, signs, markings, and/or operational 
    To date, 39 locations have been mitigated through the RIM program, 
including Santa Barbara Municipal Airport, Corpus Christi International 
Airport, and Albuquerque International Airport. Before mitigation, 
these 39 locations experienced 435 runway incursions, compared to 30 
runway incursions after mitigation. The RIM locations will be monitored 
over time to determine if mitigation efforts were successful and 
whether or not additional mitigation is needed.
    The FAA has also worked to mitigate the impacts of runway 
excursions--incidents where an aircraft overruns, undershoots, or veers 
off the side of a runway--by improving RSA at commercial service 
airports. The RSA is typically 500 feet wide and extends 1,000 feet 
beyond each end of the runway. Many airports were built before the 
current 1,000-foot RSA standard was adopted approximately 20 years ago. 
In some cases, it is not practicable to achieve the full standard RSA 
because there may be a lack of available land. There also may be 
obstacles such as bodies of water, highways, railroads, and populated 
areas or severe drop-off of terrain.
    The FAA began conducting research in the 1990s to determine how to 
improve safety at airports where the full RSA cannot be obtained. 
Working in concert with the University of Dayton, the Port Authority of 
New York and New Jersey, and the Engineered Arresting Systems 
Corporation (ESCO) of Logan Township, NJ, a new technology emerged to 
safely stop overrunning aircraft. Engineered Material Arresting System 
(EMAS) uses crushable material placed at the end of a runway to stop an 
aircraft that overruns the runway. The tires of the aircraft sink into 
the lightweight material and the aircraft is decelerated as it rolls 
through the material.
    The EMAS technology improves safety benefits in cases where land is 
not available, or not possible to have the standard 1,000-foot overrun. 
A standard EMAS installation can stop an aircraft from overrunning the 
runway at approximately 80 miles per hour. An EMAS arrestor bed can be 
installed to help slow or stop an aircraft that overruns the runway, 
even if less than a standard RSA length is available.
    As of October 2014, there are two manufacturers of EMAS products 
that meet the FAA requirements of advisory circular 150-5220-22B, 
``Engineered Materials Arresting Systems for Aircraft Overruns''--ESCO 
and Runway Safe. The FAA must review and approve each EMAS 
installation. Currently, ESCO's EMAS is installed on 112 runway ends at 
68 U.S. airports, with plans to install 3 EMAS at 2 additional U.S. 
airports. Runway Safe's EMAS is installed on four runway ends at 
Chicago Midway Airport. To date, there have been 15 incidents where 
ESCO's EMAS has safely stopped overrunning aircraft with a total of 406 
crew and passengers aboard those flights.
    EMAS and other RSA improvements have minimized adverse impacts 
otherwise resulting from runway excursions. For example, in July 2013, 
Asiana Airlines Flight 214 landed short on Runway 28L at San Francisco 
International Airport. Although the aircraft sustained severe damage 
and three people died, everyone else on board the aircraft survived, 
with many being able to walk away, due to an RSA improvement that 
provided the standard 600' of available ``undershoot'' before the 
runway. Had it not been for this enhancement, the aircraft would have 
landed short in San Francisco Bay. And in March 2017, a McDonnell 
Douglas MD83 aircraft carrying the University of Michigan Men's 
Basketball Team overran Runway 23L during a rejected take-off at 
Detroit Willow Run Airport, and entered an RSA that had been improved 
to meet current standards. Although there was damage to the aircraft, 
there was only one minor injury reported.
    In this age of innovation that is reshaping the NAS, the pace of 
technological change is nothing short of amazing. What has not changed, 
however, is the FAA's focus on safety. It is our number one priority 
and the foundation for everything that we do. The United States is the 
gold standard in aviation safety and the FAA is committed to 
maintaining that standard. In our quest for continuous safety 
improvement, we welcome external review of our systems, processes, and 
recommendations. We are confident, with the support of this Committee 
and the robust engagement of our stakeholders, we can innovate safely 
and continue to solidify America's role as the global leader in 
    This concludes my statement. I will be happy to answer your 

    Senator Collins. Mr. Bahrami.
    Mr. Bahrami. Chairman Collins, Ranking Member Reed, members 
of the subcommittee, I appreciate the opportunity to address 
the Federal Aviation Administration's top priority--safety.
    The Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 and Lion Air 610 
accidents are tragic events that seared the safety conscience 
of the entire aviation community. Learning from and recovering 
from these accidents is our primary focus within the aviation 
safety organization, along with maintaining the continued 
operational safety of the National Airspace System.
    With respect to returning the 737 MAX to service, the FAA 
is following a thorough process, not a prescribed timeline. We 
continue to evaluate Boeing's software modification to the 
MCAS. In addition, we are developing necessary training 
requirements as we support various investigations and audits 
    We are working through the Joint Authorities Technical 
Review, or JATR, to conduct a comprehensive review of the 737 
MAX's flight control system certification. We have also 
initiated multi-agency Technical Advisory Board review of 
Boeing's MCAS software update and system safety assessment. Let 
me emphasize that despite this strong spotlight we are under, 
we welcome the scrutiny as it will make us stronger.
    Our data-driven, risk-based systems approach to standards, 
certification, and oversight forms the backbone of the proven 
quantifiable safety record that we have come to expect in 
commercial aviation. In the past 10 years, U.S. carriers have 
transported more than 7 billion passengers with one fatality, 
but one fatality is too many.
    Further, as the aviation environment becomes more complex 
with the new entrants, we know a healthy safety culture 
requires commitment to continuous improvement. Through our new 
strategic plan, we are aligning our safety culture to be 
responsive to the new challenges we face, including new 
entrants, the fastest growing of which is, of course, unmanned 
aircraft systems, or UAS.
    We have sharpened our focus on the safety of all aircraft 
operations, and we work on a number of initiatives to support 
UAS integration. We are using existing rules to enable UAS 
operations where we can and focusing on safety-enabling an 
ever-expanding universe of UAS operations and capabilities.
    In conclusion, I would like to emphasize that in our quest 
for continuous safety improvement, we welcome external review 
of our systems and processes, and we remain committed to making 
commercial and general aviation even safer.
    Thank you.
    Senator Collins. Thank you. Ms. Lenfert.
    Ms. Lenfert. Chairman Collins, Ranking Member Reed, and 
members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to 
speak with you today.
    The Office of Airports works with more than 5,000 airports 
across the country and, more specifically, 3,300 airports that 
are part of the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems. We 
also work closely with airlines, general aviation pilots, State 
aviation professionals, neighboring communities, local 
governments, and many other stakeholders. Our top priority is 
always the safety of the traveling public, while optimizing 
capacity, efficiency, and security of our Nation's airports. We 
also ensure environmental responsibility and financial 
    We are deeply grateful to the United States Congress, and 
particularly this committee, for the trust that you place in 
us. The needs far exceed the available resources, but the funds 
that you provide are crucial to keeping our Nation's airports 
as safe as the airways that connect them. The nationwide system 
of airports that we help maintain represents a critical safety 
net, which is part of why the United States has the safest air 
transportation system in the world. They are also crucial to 
our national, regional and local economies.
    Understanding the importance of infrastructure to our 
Nation's economic wellbeing, we work closely with airport 
operators and their planning, and their development programs. 
In 2018, we issued a total of $3.46 billion in airport 
improvement funding, including a portion of the fiscal year 
2018 supplemental funds. In Fiscal 2019, so far we have 
processed more than $2.4 billion in grants, including 
additional funds from the fiscal year 2018 supplemental 
    We also continue to improve safety through inspections of 
certificated airports, through site visits, and through our 
latest initiative, the Runway Incursion Mitigation Program. 
Through construction, procedures, and signage and marking 
changes, we were able to reduce runway incursions at 39 
locations by 93 percent.
    But we could not accomplish this work without our highly 
skilled professional workforce. They, too, depend upon the 
resources that allow them to perform their daily functions, 
such as helping develop runway extensions in remote areas. They 
help figure out how to optimize safety and capacity at 
constrained airports. They help determine how to justify a 
runway extension with a balance between community environmental 
concerns and the system capacity and safety needs.
    Our compliance experts ensure that aviation-related 
revenues are used for aviation-related purposes, which is 
critical to the functionality of our system. Our people work 
closely with other parts of the FAA, as well as other Federal, 
State, and local agencies. We are dedicated to working with you 
and our stakeholders that we serve to help solve problems and 
to ensure that we have the safest and most efficient airport 
    Thank you.
    Senator Collins. Thank you. Ms. Stubblefield.
    Ms. Stubblefield. Chairman Collins, Ranking Member Reed, 
and members of the subcommittee, thank you for inviting me to 
speak with you today about how the FAA is addressing security 
risks associated with UAS integration.
    Safe and secure integration of UAS into the National 
Airspace System cannot be achieved without addressing the risks 
posed by malicious or errant UAS operations. Just as the U.S. 
Government has built a strong foundation of aviation security 
to support manned aircraft operations, we are focused on 
creating a comprehensive and holistic UAS security regime that 
includes the ability to prevent, deter, detect, and, when 
necessary, respond to unauthorized UAS operations.
    The FAA's prevention efforts include continuous public 
outreach and education, and support to law enforcement and 
public safety agencies. The FAA and our security partners 
believe most noncompliant UAS operations are committed by the 
clueless and the careless with no malicious intent. To deter 
reckless operators, we are providing instructional resources 
and investigative support to law enforcement agencies, which 
also enables FAA civil enforcement.
    We are publishing a remote identification rule to support 
prevention, deterrence, and detection of potential safety and 
security risks. The ability to remotely identify UAS and their 
operators in flight is crucial to locating and taking 
appropriate action against UAS operators posing a safety or 
security risk. Detecting the presence of an unauthorized UAS 
and locating the operator is critical to UAS safety, security, 
and integration. The FAA is providing information to airport 
sponsors to help them make informed decisions about deploying 
UAS detection technology at some airports.
    Turning to response, the FAA is closely coordinating with 
the Departments of Defense, Energy, Justice, and Homeland 
Security to ensure counter-UAS technologies allow them to 
accomplish their security missions, while avoiding adverse 
impacts to the National Airspace System. For domestic airports, 
several unique challenges in the airport environment require 
more evaluation and development of counter-UAS technologies. 
And as directed in the FAA Reauthorization, we are planning to 
test UAS detection and mitigations systems at several airports.
    We share concerns about the potential impacts of a drone 
disrupting airport operations and are closely coordinating with 
our Federal security partners to finalize a national Federal 
response plan to deploy counter-UAS authorities and 
technologies to address a persistent UAS disruption at a major 
U.S. airport, ensuring the U.S. Government is ready to respond 
to an event similar to the UAS disruption at UK's Gatwick 
Airport in December 2018. Working together to prevent, deter, 
detect, and respond to UAS risks, the FAA, security and law 
enforcement agencies, and critical infrastructure owners will 
enable the United States to continue leading the way in UAS 
integration and innovation, while maintaining the safest, most 
secure, and most efficient airspace system in the world.
    Thank you.
    Senator Collins. Thank you.
    Mr. Burleson, I want to start with you today. In your 
testimony, you state that the FAA prioritizes safety above all 
else, which is what we would want and expect. When one reads 
the New York Times story and the Wall Street Journal story that 
came out today, one has to question what has happened to that 
commitment, whether resource shortages have caused the agency 
to be too deferential to the aircraft manufacturer and whether 
it is really wise in the case of Boeing to have allowed the 
company to certify 96 percent of its own work.
    More disturbing, the New York Times story recounts case 
after case where safety concerns seem to be placed second to 
concerns about Boeing being able to meet its own timelines. 
Would you comment on why the FAA would give apparently more 
consideration to an aircraft manufacturer's production timeline 
than to safety concerns that were raised?
    Mr. Burleson. Senator, thank you very much for the 
    And again, let me start with foundational and FAA, and our 
core principle is safety. I think you see that in--as we are 
working through all the challenges of coming to a place where 
we feel comfortable ungrounding the MAX, step by step. We 
constantly say there is no timeline. The issue is safety.
    In terms of the newspaper reports, I think that, again, 
that they offer a perspective, but I would say that the 
professionals who are working this day in and day out have an 
incredible commitment to trying to get it right. There are 
often times as--and certainly Mr. Bahrami can elaborate on this 
because, having worked in the safety part of the FAA, he 
certainly has a lot more knowledge of the details of the 
engineering process, the process of delegation. But I will say, 
we do not, and never have, allowed self-certification of--
whether it is Boeing or any other product.
    We are fundamentally involved at the beginning of a 
certification project. The Boeing aircraft that--the MAX took 5 
years to certify. We were in the beginning phases of deciding 
what was more routine, what could be delegated in that process, 
and then what the key technologies and risks that had to be 
    So, again, I think we have been fully knowledgeable in 
dealing with the development of that plane, and I think that 
while--and we have--again, the process of delegation is 
longstanding and has, again, been a critical part of producing 
the safety record we have in the United States.
    I will say it doesn't mean that it is perfect. It doesn't 
mean that each decision we have made has always been perfect. 
But I do think the fundamental process of how we went about 
certifying the MAX was sound.
    And I think the other positive here, Senator, is that, as 
Mr. Bahrami mentioned in his testimony, we have a number of 
reviews ongoing, looking at what we did in the past with that. 
We certainly are committed to if there are improvements we need 
to make, changes we need to make, if there needs to be a 
different balance in delegation or ODA, we are certainly 
willing and ready to take those recommendations.
    And there is also committees that are also reviewing--
looking at the future. Because, again, airplanes are not going 
to be less computer centric going forward. So, again, we are 
looking not just at what--how we can improve the past, but we 
are also at this point waiting to see what recommendations 
might come in terms of improving future certification process.
    Senator Collins. Well, I have many more questions for both 
you and Mr. Bahrami, but I know that Senator Reed is on a tight 
time schedule, so I will turn to him.
    Senator Reed. Thank you, Madam Chairman.
    Mr. Bahrami, it seems that to make sense, to me at least, 
that pilots who fly these aircraft on a day-to-day basis should 
be involved in the certification process. In fact, day-to-day 
pilots, if you will, were involved in finding an additional 
flight control software issue when they were given access. 
Going forward, will the FAA reconsider requiring that everyday 
pilots--I am using the term generically--not just test pilots, 
play a greater role in aircraft certification?
    Mr. Bahrami. Senator, thanks for that question.
    Pilots and flight test engineers and operational pilots are 
engaged in certification, and they have always been involved. 
What you recently heard with respect to the recent findings on 
the issue was a review of the system safety assessment, and 
what we found out, that there was a particular failure, which 
was extremely remote. And we acknowledged that. We understood 
    And based on what we learned from the two accidents, we 
decided that we need to actually verify the assumptions, and 
that is where our pilots got involved to, in fact, verify that 
this particular situation if it occurs, is recoverable. And in 
that particular case, several of our pilots were able to 
recover, but there was one or so that they could not recover 
successfully. And because of that, we said that change needs to 
occur. So the good news is the pilots are engaged and involved 
in the process.
    Senator Reed. But the question is, will they be formally 
engaged going forward?
    Mr. Bahrami. Absolutely.
    Senator Reed. In a much more robust way officially. Not 
just informally, but officially by the FAA.
    Mr. Bahrami. Absolutely, sir.
    Senator Reed. Thank you.
    Today, the Wall Street Journal reported, as the chairman 
indicated, on the situation, and one of their points was that 
the FAA's early goal after the first crash was to, in their 
words, get something out immediately and then mandate something 
more permanent. Specifically, the FAA analysis suggests that a 
warning to pilots would be enough to provide Boeing about 10 
months to design and implement changes to MCAS, according to a 
person close to the manufacturer. Boeing had been planning to 
complete the changes by April, within the 10-month period. That 
is the end of their quote.
    This information appears to contradict earlier statements 
by the FAA. You previously thought notification would be 
sufficient to remedy safety concerns after Lion Air accident. 
So, Mr. Bahrami, is this accurate, the report that--did the FAA 
intend to have a short-term pilot warning, knowing that Boeing 
needed to make a more significant fix to the MCAS software?
    Mr. Bahrami. One of the most important roles that we play 
is continued operational safety. On a daily basis, we get 
reports from the fleet with respect to events, occurrences, 
difficulties, whether it is operational or technical, on a 
regular basis. All of those are reviewed by our engineers and 
specialists to determine what we need to--first of all, are 
they really serious safety risks, what we need to be doing in 
the interim, and at the same time, in the long-term action. And 
what--this is a normal practice.
    In that particular case, based on the data and information 
that we receive, we recognize that in Lion Air case, pilot 
action played a significant role. And because of that, we felt 
that the most important, urgent thing to do until we have 
appropriate fixes in place, to provide the pilots with the 
appropriate procedures to focus on going forward, while we 
develop this. This is our interim measures. And then the final 
fix was supposed to occur at the later time.
    And this is normal practice. I could give you numerous 
examples that we have done that.
    Senator Reed. But the implication was that this pilot 
change would be sufficient to provide airworthiness, and there 
was no real mention of improvements and necessary changes of 
the MCAS system, leading I think most people to conclude that 
there was no long-term issue with the MCAS. That lack of 
transparency, I think, is not appropriate.
    Mr. Bahrami. If I may say, sir, when we get involved in an 
accident investigation, we get involved for two reasons. Number 
one, to support the NTSB and investigators with the technical 
knowledge and information. Number two is to make sure that we 
understand what we need to do in order to protect the fleet 
based on the real-time information that we get.
    As part of the requirement in our agreement with the NTSB 
is that we do not disclose information or any indication what 
may have gone wrong in that particular case, and that is a very 
delicate balance for us to play. So we wanted to basically 
resolve the issue without having to disclose information that 
the investigators did not want us to disclose.
    And from the safety perspective, we felt strongly that what 
we did was adequate, and that was based on discussions with our 
airlines, our own operators, based on the review of the data 
that we have obtained from our operators, and also Canadian 
operators. We thought that was sufficient.
    Now, knowing what we know today, and maybe we would have to 
take a revisit of that based on these reviews that will come 
out, we will definitely make adjustments.
    Senator Reed. But of concern is that there are various 
equities. Companies don't want their planes grounded or even 
questioned about the safety because that would interfere with 
the profitability of their operations. The inspectors want to 
conduct an inspection, isolate as much as possible from the 
public. But the FAA, we expect you to basically be the person 
or entity that stands up and says this aircraft is completely 
safe to fly, that there are no further corrections necessary, 
or if there are, they are being undertaken. That does not 
appear to be the case in this situation, but thank you.
    Senator Collins. Thank you. Senator Durbin.
    Senator Durbin. Thanks, Madam Chair.
    During the 35-day Government shutdown, which President 
Trump initiated earlier this year, I made a point of meeting 
with air traffic controllers in St. Louis and in Chicago. And I 
learned that over 3,000 aviation safety professionals had been 
furloughed during the President's shutdown, and that another 
15,000 controllers and aviation safety professionals worked 
without pay. Many of them were working extraordinarily long 
shifts to try to make up the difference.
    Well, it has been 6 months since the Government reopened, 
and we are still, I understand, feeling the impacts of that 
shutdown on our air traffic control system. The air traffic 
controllers union reports that the shutdown led to early 
retirements and delayed classes at the FAA Academy, causing 
some students to drop out.
    For an organization that already experienced--experiencing 
worker shortage and for air traffic controllers who have been 
forced to work longer hours for too long, the shutdown caused 
serious damage. And the FAA has reportedly had to lower its 
hiring target for controllers from 1,400 this year to 900.
    The shutdown also negatively affected the implementation of 
new safety systems, including the arrival prediction alerting 
system, a safety system that can alert a pilot if they are 
about to land on the wrong runway and need to circle the 
    Six months after President Trump's shutdown, can you give 
us an update on the size and scale of the impacts it had on air 
traffic control? How much ground did we lose when it comes to 
air traffic controller hiring and safety upgrades?
    Mr. Burleson. Thank you, Senator, for that question.
    And again, I will start with I just want to say I 
appreciate your acknowledgement of what FAA did. It was pretty 
extraordinary. I mean, I have been at the agency for 30 years, 
and I will say this is one of our finest hours; that for 5 
weeks, the system ran perfectly, safely, efficiently, where 
again, a good portion of our workforce was sitting home, and 
the rest was working without pay.
    Senator Durbin. Bless you, and bless the controllers, but 
this was totally unnecessary. This was a Government shutdown 
inspired by one man. Would you continue and tell me today where 
we stand in terms----
    Mr. Burleson. So, Senator, today--so, again, I think the 
good news is we have made great progress. Again, there was--
again, like any large organization, if you shut it down for 5 
weeks, there is going to be some impacts.
    I will say in terms of controller targets and training, 
this year's class is slightly lower. But in terms of overall 
targets of what we are trying to achieve--and we sent our 
staffing plan to Congress--you will see that we are still on 
track in terms of getting to about 14,000 controllers. The 
composition is a little--slightly different in terms of we have 
about 3,500 trainees as part of that. But again, there was some 
delay at the academy, but the classes have restarted, and we 
certainly are not concerned of making sure that we have the 
right level of controllers in the system.
    We did have some delays in the implementation of a number 
of the NextGen projects. Again, if you shut down an 
organization, that is going to happen. I think the good news, 
again, is we are working to try to schedule waterfalls of how 
we get different parts of the NextGen systems out in the 
system, coordinating schedules of our controllers, our 
technicians. And so, again, there has been some delay, but I am 
confident we are going to be able to address those issues over 
the next year and get that work back on track.
    Senator Durbin. Mr. Burleson, I think more than anything, 
the words ``safety'' and ``FAA'' are almost synonymous. That is 
your reason for being. And the point I hope I have made, and I 
think you have reinforced, is that Government shutdown 
compromised the safety of our aviation--at least threatened to 
compromise the safety of our aviation system. And it wasn't 
until the air traffic controllers announced that they were 
going to start slowing down the traffic at our airports that 
this Government shutdown finally came to an end.
    What you are telling me as well is that many projects that 
Congress has asked for and you have initiated to make our air 
traffic or our aviation system even safer have been delayed 
because of this Government shutdown. This note--I said earlier 
that the FAA has reportedly lowered its hiring targets for air 
traffic controllers from 1,400 to 900. We received that 
information from you. Is that the case?
    Mr. Burleson. So, Senator, yes. The class size this time 
went down. But again, in terms of what we need for filling 
controllers overall in our overall target, it is not going to 
have an appreciable impact.
    But let me come back to you, Senator. I have to 
fundamentally disagree. At no time in that 5 weeks was the 
aviation system of the United States unsafe.
    Senator Durbin. That is----
    Mr. Burleson. We would not--sir, we would not have 
    Senator Durbin [continuing]. Sir----
    Mr. Burleson [continuing]. the operations----
    Senator Durbin [continuing]. I didn't say that. And I think 
it was not unsafe because air traffic controllers still on the 
job were working long hours to try to make up the difference, 
despite many of them facing the reality of no pay. And I can 
tell you some specific stories of these air traffic controllers 
that I met with and the sacrifices and pressure they were under 
because of that shutdown.
    I would like to believe that an air traffic controller is 
working a normal shift, without that kind of pressure and 
family pressure, with no paycheck, and doing their job and 
doing it professionally. I don't think we made it any easier 
with that Government shutdown. Let me just ask you point blank. 
Do you? Do you think the Government shutdown made their job 
    Mr. Burleson. No, sir. It did not make our controllers' job 
easier. It did not make our airport inspectors, nor our safety 
folks--no one--it did not make it easier. All I want to say, 
sir, is that because of the commitment--and this is what I said 
in my statement. The men and women of the FAA have an amazing 
    Senator Durbin. Thank goodness they do.
    Mr. Burleson [continuing]. to the safety of the aviation 
system. And this is what you see in that shutdown, that they 
reported to work. They did their jobs as the Government sorted 
out its issues between the Congress and the administration. Our 
focus is not that. Our focus is making sure the system runs 
safe every day for Americans.
    Senator Durbin. If you could also give me a report on 
secondary cockpit barrier progress, I would appreciate that.
    Thank you, Madam Chair.
    Senator Collins. Thank you. Senator Manchin.
    Senator Manchin. Thank you, Madam Chairman, and thank you 
all for this hearing.
    I am going to get right to the 737 MAX. And I think that, 
Mr. Bahrami, this will mostly be for you.
    It seems like every few months that we are learning 
something new about the problem. First, it was the MCAS system 
existed at all. We didn't know about that. It wasn't even 
included in the pilot's manual.
    Second, we learned that changes were made to the MCAS 
system late in the design process that made the system more 
powerful, allowing it to push the nose down much more 
aggressively. Even so, this system relied on the single sensor 
and had no redundancy.
    Third, we learned that the FAA never performed its own 
assessments of the system, and in fact, that had delegated much 
of its oversight to the Boeing Company.
    We are still in the position to be helpful. We want to be 
helpful. We need to get these planes moving again. As I--last 
count I have, 389 planes that have been grounded; 200 built and 
not even delivered. So we are at 600 planes.
    What does that do for the safety of the system right now if 
we are running planes that should be timed out or maybe should 
be grounded? Are we running planes longer than they should be 
run since they are not being replaced? Are we losing a lot of 
flights, which is a tremendous economic hurt to all areas of 
the country?
    Sir, I question basically our role as the Federal 
oversight, making sure that the skies are safe, the planes that 
are going in the skies are safe, people are trained properly, 
the tach indicator, things of this sort. It is just 
unbelievable that we got to this position, and we let them--I 
am understanding it was driven by the industry who did not want 
to go through the retraining process and try to save an awful 
lot of money and time just making the transfer of a new plane 
coming into the system.
    So if you can talk to that, sir. I know you are over all of 
this. I know you started out with 737 MAX. Then you went back 
to the private sector. Then you came back to the FAA. So if you 
can explain to me how we got to this position.
    Mr. Bahrami. Thank you for the question. Sir, you have 
multiple questions.
    Senator Manchin. Yes.
    Mr. Bahrami. And statements in there, and let us just put 
things in the proper perspective.
    Senator Manchin. Okay.
    Mr. Bahrami. Then I will defer to you to tell me where I 
need to explain certain things more.
    Senator Manchin. Sure.
    Mr. Bahrami. First of all, let me talk about myself. I have 
40 years in aviation, all of it in large transport. All of it 
in certification. And I was a designee of the company, and I 
know what it is to be a designee. It is a badge of honor that 
once the greatest safety organization in the world tells you 
that you are trusted to do work on my behalf in terms of data 
improvement, that is--that is probably the highlight of an 
individual career.
    So I would say that when we talk about delegation, 
delegation is sound, and over the years we have been able to 
improve it and get better at it by shifting from individual 
designees to organizational delegation. And to the point that 
we are today, it is supposed to be the most comprehensive, and 
in terms of oversight, systems--system oversight. That is our 
    So I--the reason I did go to--there is a write-up on it. I 
went back to industry. I come back. And I spent 25 years at the 
FAA in charge of large transports in Seattle, was based in 
    Senator Manchin. If I can just direct, because time--I 
know--if I can just go over a little bit. This was a complex 
plane. Okay? You hung new engines on, you did a lot of 
different things with a software system that wasn't even 
mentioned in the pilot's manual. It wasn't even mentioned in 
the pilot's manual, and yet the FAA agreed that pilots only 
needed an hour of iPad training to get up to speed. That is 
incomprehensible to me, to be in that position, when we did a 
complete makeover, basically using the same air frame, but we 
changed the whole dynamics of that plane to perform 
    Mr. Bahrami. The pilot training, that is a great question. 
The pilot training decision is not made by one individual or 
one inspector or pilot in the FAA. It is done through a process 
which is called flight standardization board.
    Senator Manchin. Is that under you all, the FAA?
    Mr. Bahrami. Yes
    Senator Manchin. Well, here is the other thing on that. The 
biggest selling point for the MAX was that it would require 
minimum pilot training, and Boeing promised Southwest millions 
of dollars in rebates if the MAX required simulator training.
    Mr. Bahrami. If I may?
    Senator Manchin. You already basically eliminated simulator 
training, didn't think it was needed, to basically adhere to 
what Southwest demands were.
    Mr. Bahrami. If I may finish.
    Senator Manchin. Sure. I am sorry.
    Mr. Bahrami. No, that is okay. What I wanted to point out 
was that when we have a new design, whether it is a derivative 
or a new model, the pilots, including line pilots, people for 
the airline, they get together as part of this group and they 
see what changes are made to the flight deck. They compared it 
to the previous model. And then they go through the training 
syllabus and make a decision whether--what type of training is 
needed. It was the decision of that body that says that this 
MCAS training, this computer-based training is sufficient.
    I am not a pilot, but I can tell you that from human 
factors perspective, you want to make sure you provide the 
pilots with sufficient information to be able to control the 
aircraft, but you don't want to overwhelm them with all kinds 
of information that may not be relevant. An MCAS system was 
supposed to be a system that works in the background, and it 
should be transparent to the flight crews. That was the logic.
    Now, knowing what we know today and what Acting 
Administrator Elwell has said, we should have included more 
description in the computer-based training in order to explain 
what MCAS is and what it will do. So what we should be focusing 
on--and I am going to do that, and that is what the team is 
doing--is a better appreciation and understanding of system 
safety assessment, ramifications of various failures and things 
like that.
    Senator Manchin. Are we doing investigations into this 
agency that is supposed to have the oversight of the training? 
I am a pilot. So the only thing I know is that I am flying IFR 
and I think that I have got to override the autopilot, I have 
got a couple switches to flip, and I am overriding my 
autopilot. I mean, that is the first thing that I have learned.
    When I go back to pilot training, the same thing. I am 
being basically trained in case of an emergency. I already know 
how to fly the plane. I want to know what happens if I have to 
try to fly through an emergency.
    Mr. Bahrami. That is right.
    Senator Manchin. And for some reason, these two pilots, I 
guess the foreign pilots had no idea they could turn the system 
    Mr. Bahrami. Sir, thank you very much. That is a very 
important point you are making.
    In an age--in our business, in the business of safety, you 
want to be focused on the issues that you need to focus on and 
help things--make things better. I do not want to pass judgment 
on the qualification of the pilots that were on those flights, 
but I will say, a review of the flight data recorder and the 
preliminary information and what we know, the actions they took 
was inconsistent with what you would think.
    Senator Manchin. Let me just say and I will wrap this up.
    Mr. Bahrami. That was an issue, that we were----
    Senator Manchin. Thank you for being so kind, Madam 
Chairman, but I want to wrap up by saying this. We have relied 
on the industry more than we should rely on the industry to do 
the job that we should do to make sure that the American public 
is safe.
    I would say for the 737 MAX to get back into the air, every 
Boeing official should be flying that plane for 1 month to make 
sure that we have the confidence for a passenger to get back on 
that plane. I am not getting on the 737 MAX until I see the 
president of Boeing and all of his and her associates be on 
that plane first and fly for any substantial time.
    Mr. Bahrami [continuing]. We absolutely agree that it is 
necessary for us to do everything we can to gain the confidence 
of the flying public. And let me assure you that most of my 
time at this point, talking to foreign authorities, talking 
with the airlines' executives, talking to labor unions, is to 
make sure that when we are there, all along they understand how 
we got to where we are, and what we have done is the right 
safety action.
    Senator Collins. Thank you, sir.
    Mr. Bahrami. Thank you.
    Senator Collins. Senator Boozman.
    Senator Boozman. Thank you, Madam Chair, for holding this 
hearing, which is so important.
    I would like to talk about a few things that are important, 
not that these others aren't. You know, that is the nice thing 
about having you all is we can talk about a variety of issues, 
but some things that area really important to all of our 
States. One of those is the contract tower program.
    Mr. Burleson, I think it is one of the most successful 
Government-industry partnerships that we have and, as you well 
know, has a very strong bipartisan, bicameral support in 
Congress. It is validated numerous times by the Department of 
Transportation Inspector General. The program continues to 
provide high-quality, cost-effective, and critical air traffic 
control services to over 250 smaller airports throughout our 
Nation's transportation system, including five in Arkansas.
    Given the critical importance of contract towers to rural 
Americans, smaller airports, what steps are the Department and 
FAA taking to work collaboratively with industry to ensure the 
continued success of rural airports that depend on our contract 
    Mr. Burleson. Senator, thank you for that question.
    And FAA, we absolutely agree that this is an incredibly 
important and efficient program in terms of providing air 
traffic services to large parts of the county. Currently, we 
have, I guess, in the President's budget going forward is $169 
million is proposed for contract towers. From our assessment, 
that appears to cover the existing contract towers in the 
program, as well as it appears to cover what--the new 
applicants that are coming our way.
    In terms of the steps we have taken recently, in June of 
this year, we reopened the application process for contract 
towers, and we currently have, I believe, six new applicants, 
sir, that are going through the process of review. We are 
also--based on the congressional direction, we are doing all 
the cost-benefit analyses that are required for both the new 
entrants and the Cost Share towers. Those will be accomplished 
by September of this year.
    I know there is also an issue we are seeing in terms of 
staffing challenges. Part of it is because a lot of the 
controllers are now--we are recruiting them. It potentially is 
creating some challenges for some of the vendors of contract 
towers. So our air traffic organization is holding discussions 
with them to see are there ways that we can try to address and 
help in this area.
    Senator Boozman. Very good. On April 9, 2018, the 
Department of Transportation signed an MOU implementing 
Executive Order 13807, also known as the One Federal Decision 
Framework. The framework signals a continued emphasis by the 
Trump administration on expediting infrastructure project 
reviews by requiring improved coordination among all Federal 
agencies within a single process.
    Mr. Burleson, understanding this is a relatively new 
framework, has the One Federal Decision had an impact on 
streamlining approvals thus far?
    Mr. Burleson. So, thank you for the question, Senator.
    So, again, I would actually defer to Winsome Lenfert, who 
is our Head of Airports, who has a lot more experience in the 
environmental world and might be able to----
    Senator Boozman. She looks like she knows the answer.
    Mr. Burleson. She seems to know the answer, yes, sir.
    Ms. Lenfert. Thank you, Senator, for that question.
    And I would actually like to recognize that the Office of 
Airports and the overall entire FAA has actually been working 
very hard to streamline environmental processes for many years. 
So we appreciate the executive order that was put in place. It 
just increases the Government-wide emphasis on this 
    So we work very closely in doing a lot of planning up front 
in a project and then working very closely with the airport 
sponsor to ensure that we are implementing the environmental 
requirements in the executive order. But we also have to strike 
a balance in that, in that we make sure that we are following 
our environmental due diligence in a thorough review of the 
projects, while ensuring that we are implementing our 
infrastructure projects.
    Senator Boozman. Very good. So things are moving forward. 
You are having some success. This is so important. We struggle 
with the debt, the deficit. This is an area that actually would 
save a lot of money. And we don't want to shortchange any of 
the environmental considerations or anything else, the safety 
considerations, but we do want to make sure that we work 
together. Are there any improvements that we can help with as 
far as helping you in that regard?
    Ms. Lenfert. Not at this time. I think one of the things 
that was approved in the recent reauthorization is Section 163, 
which actually allows us to look at a project and make a 
determination that there is minimal Federal impact required, 
especially on non-aeronautical development on an airport. And 
we have been very successful with this program. So far, there 
have been about 25 different projects throughout the country 
where we have had to do minimal review, and the airports are 
going forward and putting the projects in place with minimal 
environmental and Federal oversight.
    Some of the projects example is in Lafayette, Indiana. They 
were able to go forward and to put in an industrial research 
park with minimal Federal oversight and environmental review. 
Spokane, Washington, is also another one that we recently did.
    Senator Boozman. Very good. Thank you, Madam Chair.
    Senator Collins. Thank you. Senator Hoeven.
    Senator Hoeven. Thank you, Madam Chair.
    Administrator Bahrami, could you provide me with a--you 
know, you and I had a conversation last week. I appreciate that 
very much. As you know, we are working on some things at our 
Northern Plains test site at Grand Forks, North Dakota, and one 
of those we work very hard on is Beyond Visual Line of Sight. 
And so I am wondering, do you have a list of milestones or 
specifics that we would need in order to approve the BVLOS, the 
Beyond Visual Line of Sight, flights without chase planes?
    I mean, have we gotten to those specifics that they need? 
Because, as you know, we have worked on this very diligently, 
put a tremendous amount of resources in place, and we need to 
know what is required to finish that up so we are doing it on a 
routine basis.
    Mr. Bahrami. Thank you, Senator.
    First of all, I want to thank you for the opportunity to 
talk to you about this just recently. As I said on the phone 
the other day, we have a very, very strong partnership with 
North Dakota, the test site, and they are supporting us in so 
many different ways, frankly, numerous projects.
    As you know, they are engaged in the integration pilot 
program. They are engaged in supporting us for Operation Beyond 
Visual Line of Sight. They are also working on No Chase 
Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) currently with 
General Atomics.
    And as I committed to you, with respect to the Beyond 
Visual Line of Sight, specifically the company with Excel 
Energy, I committed to you that we will have this result and 
changes made by end of this week. I was informed actually this 
morning before I came here that we made progress, and we are 
going to be communicating that to the test site. And they will 
be--with this decision, they will be able to eliminate the 
observers that was a costly aspect of that. That is one issue 
that I was told this morning, which resolved the concern they 
    With respect to the No Chase COA, the issue there is work 
and coordination between several air traffic centers. And 
today, there is a meeting that is taking place to talk about 
that with the test site officials, and there will be the 
follow-on discussion with General Atomics.
    I guess what I am trying to point out is I will be happy to 
provide you a list of all of the projects, but frankly, these 
are the two most important ones that were both--that were 
brought up, brought to our attention, and we have already taken 
actions on those.
    Senator Hoeven. That is good. The key is understanding what 
they are and the timeline, and our people will work through it 
with you. And I want to take the opportunity to thank not only 
yourself, but Mr. Burleson and the others for the relationship 
that we have with the FAA. And we are trying to keep these 
things moving along, so we just want to make sure we understand 
exactly what the requirements are and that we have some 
timelines we can set to achieve them.
    Mr. Bahrami. Sir, if I may say, one important thing in 
honoring your partnership is to keeping commitments. I totally 
understand that. And the appreciation of our mission, which is 
safety, and making sure that we balance safety and innovation 
appropriately. That is where we need the input and the data and 
the expertise that the tech center will bring to us, and we 
definitely welcome that.
    Senator Hoeven. Okay. Thank you.
    And then Ms. Stubblefield, thanks for traveling to see our 
UAS operations. We appreciate that. I guess questions I would 
have for you in regard to--when do you expect to complete the 
current rulemaking process on remote identification for UAS?
    Ms. Stubblefield. So, thank you for that question, Senator 
Hoeven, and I very much appreciated the trip out to North 
Dakota. It was very instructional to talk with the UAS test 
site and the folks out there.
    The remote identification rule is the top priority for the 
FAA on UAS rulemaking. It is an extremely complex rule, and it 
is a rule that requires not only the rule itself, but several 
other pieces that we have been working on. So we are working 
very hard to publish that rule this year.
    But it is important to remember a couple of things as we 
talk about probably some of your frustration with the timeline. 
One is the fact that, up until October of last year, the FAA 
did not have the authority over all UAS operators in the 
airspace, and we are extremely grateful to Congress for 
restoring the FAA's authority over all UAS operators, in 
particular the recreational operators.
    Before that time, we were struggling with putting together 
a rule that really addressed what needs to occur in the 
airspace with remote identification to take advantage of that 
from the security perspective, the safety perspective, and 
enabling integration. Once we had that authority, we were able 
to move forward in really building out the rule.
    But there are also two other facets that have to come 
together to actually enable remote identification 
implementation in the airspace. One is standards, and there are 
several industry groups that the FAA is supporting in putting 
together industry standards that will be necessary to execute 
the rule. And then on top of that is the infrastructure piece. 
So when that remote ID requirement is out there, how will that 
information be transmitted? How will it be communicated to law 
enforcement and other security partners?
    That infrastructure has to be built out. And we have had an 
RFI out on the street since December to get a cadre of industry 
to start working on that. So the goal is, when the rule comes 
out, we have the standards we need and the infrastructure in 
place to execute those altogether.
    And on top of that, we are also--in June, our Drone 
Advisory Committee sought--or is seeking input on a 90-day 
timeframe to have the DAC members, who are industry, State and 
local law enforcement, State and local government, other 
aviation industry players, coming together to talk about how we 
can incentivize early equipage of remote identification so that 
we can take advantage of that as quickly as possible.
    Senator Hoeven. Thank you. Madam Chair, I do have some 
additional questions. Are you going to have another round?
    Senator Collins. We are. Thank you. Senator Murray.
    Senator Murray. Thank you very much, Chairman Collins and 
Ranking Member Reed. I appreciate your work on this.
    And before I ask my questions, I do want to note that my 
top priority here is the safety of the flying community, and I 
know FAA is working to resolve the many aviation safety 
challenges we are currently facing, including the 
recertification and oversight efforts that are ongoing with the 
Boeing 737 MAX planes.
    I understand the work of the multi-agency Technical 
Advisory Board is well underway. I look forward to their 
findings, as well as those of the FAA. And I would just ask all 
of you to continue to work as transparently as possible to keep 
members of Congress in the loop as new information becomes 
available and developments occur so that we can prevent future 
tragedies. I know this issue has already been talked about 
here, so I won't ask any questions about it, I am following it 
extremely closely.
    The question I did want to ask today is the issue of sexual 
assault on airplanes. This is an issue that I have been working 
on for a long time because I heard from constituents who were 
sexually assaulted during flights, and they experienced a 
complete lack of information as to how to respond or who to 
report to, what would happen next.
    So both the fiscal year 2018 appropriations bill and the 
FAA Reauthorization Act required DOT to work with relevant 
Federal agencies and other stakeholders, including sexual 
assault survivors themselves and representatives from the 
flight attendants, airports, and air carriers, to establish a 
task force that would address sexual misconduct on airplanes. I 
am really glad the task force has started its work, and I hope 
it will work with all of those stakeholders to recommend swift, 
effective action.
    But I wanted to ask you, Mr. Burleson, today, how is the 
FAA working with DOT and the Office of the Secretary on this 
task force?
    Mr. Burleson. Thank you, Senator, again, for raising this 
question because this is a very important issue. Certainly no 
one should be exposed to the risk of sexual assault taking a 
    Again, as you noted, Congress has set up provisions where 
the Office of the Secretary is leading this effort. FAA is 
cooperating with that task force. And again, we are really 
waiting for the outcome of that task force to decide how we can 
best adopt the recommendations, both in terms of both the 
general prescriptions, as well as I know the Attorney General 
is also working across Federal agencies to decide how best to 
collect some of the metrics. So, again, we stand by to, based 
on the recommendations that come out of that task force, to 
figure out how best to adopt that in the aviation system.
    Senator Murray. Okay. Well, I know that the FAA issues 
regulations, advisory circulars, guidance to air carriers, all 
related to cabin safety. So outside the task force and waiting 
for a task force to complete its work, are you undertaking any 
efforts at the FAA to deal with this issue?
    Mr. Burleson. Senator, I know we have collected some basic 
data to try to help provide information. But again, there has 
been at least one meeting already of the task force. So, again, 
I know it is working at pace, and so, again, we are waiting to 
see what we can do.
    Now, again, we take the normal--as flights happen in the 
system, we, again, work very closely with the normal law 
enforcement community as issues are reported to try to do as 
much as we can to ensure that law enforcement officials meet 
the plane, things are dealt with. But again, in terms of a 
larger strategic effort, we are awaiting the recommendations of 
the task force.
    Senator Murray. Okay. Well, this is a critical issue, and 
waiting means somebody is going to have an issue between now 
and when a task force comes back. So I encourage you to keep 
this top of mind.
    Let me pivot quickly. There are seven contract towers in my 
home State of Washington, and these towers, like all the other 
250 contract towers in the country, support a wide array of 
critical aviation operations, like scheduled passenger and 
cargo airline service. They do Medevac, military. They do 
aerial firefighting, aircraft manufacturing, corporate and 
general aviation, just a wide range of things.
    And I wanted to ask you, given the workforce challenge that 
is confronting the aviation industry, including the hiring of 
air traffic controllers into the FAA, I understand that many of 
these contract controllers are being drawn from the contract 
towers at rates high enough to cause challenges for the 
contractors in the program. This has created a really growing 
concern in the airports that they serve and have led to some 
questions about whether contract towers will be actually fully 
staffed. So I wanted to ask you what steps are being taken by 
the FAA to work perhaps collaboratively with the contractors in 
industry to make sure they have full staffing levels?
    Mr. Burleson. Thank you, Senator.
    So as I had shared to an earlier question, we are very firm 
supporters of the contract tower program, and this issue of 
staffing has come up. Again, it is of concern to us. We want to 
make sure that there are the right staffing available for 
vendors that actually man these towers. So our air traffic 
organization is actually having discussions to try to explore 
what options we might have in terms of workforce.
    Workforce generally is a very important issue for us. We 
have taken a number of steps in the FAA to try to tackle this 
broader issue of the aviation workforce going forward. You 
probably have seen some of the reports that over the next 20 
years, we need 600,000 pilots, probably almost equal amounts of 
technicians. We need new kinds of skill sets.
    So we held a summit last September with industry and 
academia, unions, to start tackling this issue. FAA has formed 
a task force inside the agency, and we are really working to 
try to figure out how do we expand the pipeline of interesting 
the next men and women in aviation careers, how do we target 
the right kinds of proficiency and skills in the training 
process, and how do we partner with both education and industry 
to try to make aviation careers attractive? So we are working 
very hard at this.
    Senator Murray. So you have a task force. Are you going to 
bring recommendations to us? Is there policy things or funding 
things we need to be focused on?
    Mr. Burleson. We are, at this point, that is actually part 
of what we are working through in terms of how best to do some 
of these activities. We will have going forward, I suspect we 
will have some recommendations. At this point, we are doing a 
lot of assessment of how best to deal with some of these issues 
in terms of pipelines, proficiencies and partnership.
    But again, this is a very top priority because, again, the 
heart of aviation being successful in America really has relied 
on the workforce, whether it is working for us in the FAA or 
with industry. So, again, we see this as critical, both for the 
vitality, as well as the safety of the system.
    Senator Murray. Okay. I appreciate that and look forward to 
your recommendations, hopefully sooner rather than later.
    Thank you.
    Senator Collins. Thank you.
    Mr. Bahrami, I want to follow up on the line of questioning 
that I began in the first round. I would ask that you bring 
your mike a little bit closer to you so that we may hear you 
more clearly.
    The New York Times story that I mentioned asserted that at 
one point in the certification process, FAA managers conceded 
that the MAX did not meet agency guidelines for protecting 
flight controls. But then the FAA considered whether any 
requested changes would interfere with Boeing's timeline, and 
FAA managers wrote that, ``It would be impractical at this late 
point in the program for the company to resolve the issue.''
    I have two questions for you. First, is that accurate? And 
second, should FAA managers and engineers be concerned about 
Boeing's production timeline when making decisions that are 
related to safety?
    Mr. Bahrami. First of all, that is not correct. In every 
certification program, there is debate, dialogue exchange, with 
respect to compliance with the specific regulations. As you 
know, some regulations are very prescriptive. Frankly, those 
are the easy ones to find compliance to because it is either 
this or not.
    There are others that are very subjective. And in some 
cases, those regulations often are debated and discussed 
tremendously in a period of a 1-year, 2-year timeframe. And I 
have seen in my career certifying programs like 787, Airbus 
A380 and others since 777, I have seen those situations occur. 
That is why we put in place processes. That is why we put a 
process where we get the appropriate people get together, 
discuss the facts and information.
    In that particular case that you are referring to, there 
were prior discussions as part of the process that the 
documentation of that particular action was taken. Several 
folks were not happy with that. That issue, again, was elevated 
and went through a prototype process that we put in place. And 
after that, based on all the data, managers made the decision, 
and the decision that was made, it was not necessarily to the 
liking of one or two individuals.
    Frankly, that is what I get paid for. That is what managers 
get paid for: To look at the data, fact, and information and 
make the decisions, and those are very tough issues that we 
need to deal with. In my view, the process was followed, and I 
would definitely look forward to all these different reviews 
that are being conducted, for them to take a look at it again 
to see if we could have done anything differently or there are 
areas that there are shortcomings in.
    Senator Collins. So is your testimony that pressure from a 
manufacturer to meet its deadlines for production has no impact 
at all on the decisions that you make with regard to safety?
    Mr. Bahrami. When it comes to safety, absolutely. Safety is 
number one. That is what we focus on.
    Senator Collins. Well, let me follow up on Senator Reed's 
question about the article in the Wall Street Journal this 
morning. According to this press account, after the Ethiopian 
Air crash, FAA's internal analysis found that the underlying 
risks of the MCAS were unacceptably high, and that they 
exceeded internal FAA safety standards.
    Now, in the past when FAA has found that an aircraft poses 
an unacceptably high safety risk, it has mandated equipment 
changes, inspections, or training. But in this case, what FAA 
appears to have done is simply to issue a reminder to pilots on 
how to respond to an MCAS malfunction, and FAA gave Boeing many 
months to fix the underlying issue. What troubles me about this 
is, if the agency's own analysis found MCAS to be an 
unacceptable risk, why did the FAA not take immediate action to 
address those risks?
    Mr. Bahrami. So I just want to make sure, just a 
clarification. The discussion that we had was concerning the 
events after the Lion Air, not the Ethiopian Airlines. 
Ethiopian Airlines, we understand what happened in that case, 
and shortly after we get the facts and data and information, we 
grounded the fleet.
    On the Lion Air situation, when you say a reminder and 
notifications to the pilots or air flight crews, we do that 
through airworthiness directives. Airworthiness directives are 
laws. They are not just reminders. They have to comply with 
    And typically what happens in case of a procedure or a 
change or focus on a particular process, a copy of the 
airworthiness directive actually put in, in the flight book for 
the pilot, so they know that this is something they need to be 
mindful of. So it is not just a notification be aware this is 
an issue, it is there for them to act upon should they 
encounter that issue.
    So that was an interim action. We knew that eventual 
solution would be to have the modification, and based on our 
risk assessment, we felt that we have sufficient time to be 
able to do the modification, you know, and get the final fix, 
what that means, typically, when we have refer to it as closing 
action. Closing action basically eliminates all the interim 
actions, removes that particular piece of paper from the flight 
manual, and then the MCAS modifications are incorporated. So 
those processes are what we use, and we did the same in this 
particular case.
    Senator Collins. Of course, and I will yield to Senator 
Reed, but one issue here, which Senator Manchin mentioned, is 
that MCAS wasn't in the original manual, which seems very 
    Senator Reed.
    Senator Reed. Thank you very much, Ms. Chairman.
    Mr. Burleson, you are aware that the Department of 
Transportation IG is conducting a review of certain air 
carriers' management and maintenance programs, and we 
understand that they have developed a systemic concern that FAA 
is transitioning from a strategy that emphasized enforcement to 
one that is more relaxed in terms of compliance. And they have 
also indicated that questions arose about the agency's ability 
to effectively document maintenance issues and identify 
persistent problems with trends over time as a result of this 
new approach.
    And as I indicated in my opening statement, they contend 
FAA guidance even allows inspectors to close out compliance 
actions without ensuring that corrective action has been 
implemented and is effective.
    Given all these comments, can you explain how the FAA is 
mitigating safety risks and holding air carriers accountable to 
appropriately maintain the fleet with this sort of relaxed 
    Mr. Burleson. Thank you, Senator, for the question.
    And what I would like to do is set a larger historical 
context and then let my colleague, Mr. Bahrami, talk 
specifically about the maintenance issues with the IG report.
    So, again, where we have arrived today in the compliance 
program is all about how do we identify risk and deal with 
safety proactively. And again, it is not a matter of relaxed 
enforcement. We still take enforcement, if you cannot meet the 
standards, if you cannot comply to our safe operation, we will 
take appropriate action. And again, this was a process that has 
been developed over two decades.
    Again, I have been so long at the FAA, I remember back in 
the '90s when we were facing significant challenge with the 
growth of air traffic and the accident rates we were facing, 
potentially, we were going to face worldwide an accident every 
other week. And so this clearly wasn't going to be acceptable 
for the aviation industry. So we had to find a different 
    And so this is what has developed the whole process of 
working closely, more closely, to provide information from 
industry. In fact, Congress was a critical part of that, of 
setting up the voluntary reporting system. So this is how we 
have developed in the commercial aviation safety team this 
process of being able to access information that before wasn't 
disclosed to us and to be able to take action toward 
compliance. Now, again, that doesn't mean we don't do 
enforcement when there is egregious or criminal behavior.
    So, again, I think when you look at the results in the last 
two decades and see where we were in accident rates in the `90s 
versus where we are today as we said earlier, we had one 
fatality over 10 years, 90 million flights, 7 billion 
passengers. That is quite extraordinary.
    So I would say the approach we started in the '90s and 
gradually developed has been successful. That said, it doesn't 
mean that there are not improvements. And again, we continue to 
try to work, and certainly the IG, we appreciate his input in 
terms of the program on the maintenance. And let me turn to Mr. 
Bahrami so he can elucidate there.
    Mr. Bahrami. I just want to give you a number, and that 
number is 23,000. And from 2015, when the compliance program 
went into effect, until recently, those are the number of 
compliance actions that have been identified and corrected in 
the system. I can assure you that it is virtually impossible 
for any audit to be able to get to that many number of findings 
throughout the system because no matter what we do, we go out 
and look at areas that we have traditionally had problems.
    If you look at the iceberg analogy, what we did in the 
past, we only saw the tip of the iceberg. That was regulatory 
area and audits. What we are doing with the compliance program, 
we are actually getting below the waterline, and we are getting 
into areas that we have not necessarily been able to get into 
or do not have the knowledge to be able to understand because a 
lot of those issues come through operational understanding and 
the details of operation. So I believe that our compliance 
program has been very effective and will continue to be 
    And the other point that I want to point out, I am very 
thankful for the recommendations that came from the IG. And in 
fact, GAO is also conducting a review of the effectiveness of 
the compliance program. An area that you mentioned, which is 
follow-through of the closure action, documentation of that, 
that is an area of focus. In fact, we are revisiting our 
training in that area because in certain sectors of aviation, 
specifically GA, we have to do some work and get better.
    Senator Reed. And I think the committee would be well-
informed if you could get back to us when the report is 
official, indicating what corrective action you have taken in 
response and any issues you have. Because, again, when it comes 
to safety, I don't have to remind this panel, you can't do 
    And I just want to thank Ms. Stubblefield and Ms. Lenfert. 
Ms. Lenfert, thank you for your help at T.F. Green Airport. And 
as you have learned, good work is rewarded by more work. We 
will be back.
    Thank you.
    Senator Collins. Thank you.
    Senator Capito.
    Senator Capito. Thank you, Madam Chair, and I want to thank 
you all. I apologize for coming in early and then having to 
leave. We had a markup in Commerce Committee, and I was unable 
to hear all of your statements. So I apologize for that.
    I first want to begin with a thank-you to the FAA. We had 
an issue with our EMAS, which is our emergency system at Yeager 
Airport. I see some nodding heads in Charleston, West Virginia. 
We had a hillside collapse in 2015, which wiped out our 
emergency runway overrun area, and we actually had to do 
literally an act of Congress so that we were able to secure the 
grants to replace. We just had the final ribbon cutting of the 
final EMAS, which will allow for a lot of safety issues.
    If you have flown into Yeager, you know it is right on the 
top of three mountains, actually. And having that safety stop 
there, overrun area, is critically important for us to have 
bigger planes coming in. And so I just want to thank you all 
for all the work that you did with our offices to make sure 
that happened, and with our local county commission and our 
airport board.
    I do want to ask a question, and since I missed a lot of 
the testimony, I apologize if this has already been covered. 
But in the last hearing on the Commerce Committee on March 
27th, I asked about pilot training and the airworthiness 
directive that was issued between the Lion Air and Ethiopian 
Air airline crashes. I guess I am surmising that recent reports 
have noticed that more stringent simulator testing has helped 
to identify a separate software issue.
    And maybe this isn't the best forum to ask this question, 
but hindsight is always really great. If you look at what you 
did after the Lion Air crash and then what you have done 
subsequent, after this subsequent crash, after Ethiopian, would 
more simulator training or more simulator exercises after Lion 
Air been able to have been--shown some of these things to 
light? So I am just kind of throwing that question out because 
I have always wondered. Two is different than one, and if you 
had been more aggressive and gone all out after the first 
crash, would we have had maybe some better information?
    Mr. Bahrami. Thank you for that question, Senator.
    First, I want to go back to your comment about it was true 
the simulator flight tests or testing was that we found out 
these other anomalies or shortcomings in the design. That is 
not correct. Let me tell you why.
    What happened was, through the system safety assessment, 
and because of the accident and the thorough work that we are 
doing today, including three other authorities--we have got 
Europeans, we have got Canadians, and we have got Brazilian 
colleagues supporting us in this review. And based on the data 
from the preliminary accident reports, we recognize that some 
of the actions that those flight crews took was inconsistent 
with what we assumed would be the appropriate action, which 
becomes a function of airmanship and air monitoring.
    What happened recently, what you read about, was that we 
identified a very remote failure case. And at that time, we 
said, you know, knowing what we know, we really need to go back 
and see if this occurs, can flight crews recover? And that is 
how we ended up going into the simulator, to model that 
particular scenario and see how the pilots react.
    Once we did that, we recognized, and it was the decision by 
our test pilots, that the level of proficiency that is required 
for this to recover from this event is exceptional. And because 
of that, we could not leave the decision, to leave it as is and 
don't make the changes. That is why we made the design changes, 
why the software changes are being incorporated.
    So the simulator was not the one that identified the issue. 
It was the actual system safety assessment that identified a 
vulnerability that we had to verify as part of our flight 
simulator testing.
    Senator Capito. So then it goes into the simulator as a 
    Mr. Bahrami. That is correct. So we run it in the 
engineering simulator. And the difference between the regular 
training simulator and engineering simulator, on the 
engineering case, you have the flexibility to actually change 
certain systems, where you can't do it in a regular simulator 
for training. So we have a lot of latitude in there, and we 
exercise those latitude engineering cab and we will be able to 
do this. So I would say that the decision to verify the 
assumption was based on the information we gathered from the 
two accidents.
    Senator Capito. Thank you.
    Mr. Bahrami. Thank you.
    Senator Collins. Thank you. Senator Boozman, do you have 
any further questions?
    Senator Hoeven.
    Senator Hoeven. Thank you, Madam Chairman.
    I had a couple more questions that I wanted to follow up on 
with Ms. Lenfert regarding some of our airports. In 2004, the 
FAA was scheduled to upgrade the ASR-8 in Bismarck to the 
digital ASR-11. However, that didn't happen. But the City of 
Bismarck wants to move forward with commercial development 
close to the airport, and so they need help in terms of 
relocating the existing radar to a suitable location that will 
allow for commercial development around the airport.
    So I know you are not purchasing more of the digital ASR-11 
radar systems, but will you work with us and the City of 
Bismarck and the Bismarck Airport in order to accommodate that 
commercial growth and expansion?
    Ms. Lenfert. So on that particular subject, Senator, Mr. 
Burleson would probably be better to handle that. That is 
actually air traffic organization.
    Senator Hoeven. Okay. Well, then I will direct the traffic 
to Administrator Burleson. Thank you very much.
    Mr. Burleson. Thank you, Senator.
    So, again, we understand the desire to move the ASR-8, and 
as you said, we have some challenges because that system is no 
longer even being produced. We at one time thought about 
replacing it with the ASR-11. The needs have changed.
    Now again, if the airport is interested in moving it, we 
have a number of agreements across the country, which we have 
entered into with airport authorities where, since we don't 
have an operational need, we really can't pay for it. But if 
the airport is interested, we are more than willing to work 
with the airport if they are willing to pay for the move.
    It will create a bit of a challenge with a temporary radar, 
but I have talked to our air traffic folks. They are willing to 
explore options of how there is a willingness to pay for the 
move, a right site found, to try to work out a temporary 
solution for the radar while we move the ASR-8.
    Senator Hoeven. Okay. Thank you.
    At the University of North Dakota, we have a large flight 
training school, as you know, so that is actually one of the 25 
busiest airports in the country--people don't realize it 
because they have more than 100 aircraft at the university 
there. And UND students flew over 100,000 hours at the airport 
last year alone.
    So they have a master plan that they are working on, and I 
want to know that if the FAA will continue to work with the 
Grand Forks Airport to continue to ensure that the airport's 
master plan is finalized and that the expansion project that 
they are undertaking is green lit so that they can continue to 
not only conduct the existing flights, but to grow. Ms. 
Lenfert, is this one you want to take?
    Ms. Lenfert. Yes. I can take this one, absolutely.
    Senator Hoeven. Great.
    Ms. Lenfert. Thank you for the question, Senator.
    We are actually working very closely with the Grand Forks 
Airport, and actually, I am very familiar with this project. I 
recently met with the airport director and representatives from 
the University of North Dakota, and we went through the whole 
project from beginning to end. We are working very closely with 
them on their master plan, and we hope to have their airport 
layout plan signed and approved in August.
    Senator Hoeven. Oh, that is good.
    Ms. Lenfert. So, hopefully, next month.
    Senator Hoeven. That is pretty quick.
    Ms. Lenfert. Yeah.
    Senator Hoeven. Alrighty then.
    Ms. Lenfert. They have been doing their homework.
    Senator Capito. That is tomorrow.
    Senator Hoeven. Yeah. Tomorrow is good.
    Ms. Lenfert. So we hope. We are getting close. And then we 
will be working with them closely to develop an environmental 
review once the ALP and master plan is approved. And then we 
will be working with them on a potential funding plan once we 
get through the environmental.
    Senator Hoeven. Well, I am glad I directed that question to 
you. How about the air traffic control tower? That is part of 
it, too.
    Ms. Lenfert. So I believe that we are going to start the 
design on the air traffic control tower in August, and then 
once the design is complete, we will be looking for further 
funding for the actual construction after that point.
    Senator Hoeven. All right. Thank you very much.
    Senator Collins. Thank you.
    We are going to do one final round of questions. I know 
Senator Capito has one that she would like to ask right now 
before she leaves.
    Senator Capito. Thank you. Thank you.
    I just had one additional question, and it is a little bit 
along the lines of what Senator Hoeven was talking about. We 
have two schools at Fairmont State and Marshall, which have 
aviation schools. I guess they are called the CTI Schools, 
Collegiate Training Initiative.
    In our ATC Hiring Reform Act, we did say that you could 
hire out of giving prioritization to graduates of these schools 
for air traffic controllers. What is the FAA doing--because we 
always hear about the pilot shortage and how difficult that is? 
What are you doing to help schools either stand up these 
college training initiatives or what kind of, in general, help 
can we do to address this challenge through our aviation 
schools that are just beginning?
    Mr. Burleson. So, Senator, thank you for the question.
    Again, controllers are vital to the workforce, and we 
actually have had staff talking with Congress on the act 
legislation. And we do think--we certainly want to cooperate 
with you because we do think it could be helpful.
    I think you missed earlier. I made some remarks, to just 
frame a larger issue, that the aviation workforce broadly 
across not just controllers, but pilots, technicians, we are 
very concerned.
    Senator Capito. I was talking more about the pilots, yea, 
so go ahead.
    Mr. Burleson. So, the pilots--we are very concerned about 
the future workforce. We are taking a number of steps to work 
to try to broaden the pipeline of young people into the 
workforce, as well as improve proficiency and training, as well 
as cooperate with education institutions like you were citing.
    We are working very diligently to try to lay out 
frameworks. Our regional administrators have been doing a lot 
of outreach recently. We have I think we have increased almost 
four-fold the number of activities locally to try to encourage 
future aviation professionals. So, again, we are very 
interested in this area and certainly we would be glad to talk 
with you and your staff as a follow-up.
    Senator Capito. Thank you. Thank you.
    Senator Collins. Thank you.
    I am going to switch now just quickly to two issues that 
affect the State of Maine. And Ms. Lenfert, this question is 
for you.
    At the budget hearing with Senator Chao in March, I 
described an accident that occurred at an airport in Presque 
Isle, Maine, in northern Maine, where a commuter airplane hit 
the ground, bounced numerous times, injured three individuals, 
terrified everyone on the plane, and the plane itself sustained 
substantial damage. And the Secretary committed with us to 
working to improve the safety at the airport.
    I know that you have been instrumental in helping the 
airport to secure some funds for better snow removal equipment. 
But we have a problem when you have a severe weather condition 
in a small airport like this. So could you provide us with an 
update on what else FAA is exploring to improve the safety of 
this regional airport?
    Ms. Lenfert. Thank you, Senator, for that important 
    To note, to follow up on your request for Secretary Chao, 
the FAA has, in fact, made satellite-based procedures available 
at the airport. And so we are also currently continuing our 
investigation of this particular accident and looking and 
working with our air traffic partners, working with the actual 
operators, the NTSB, and other parts of the FAA to determine 
what were all of the causal factors in this particular 
accident. As you know, it is normally not just one particular 
incident that causes the accident.
    In the meantime, we are actually preparing to working with 
the airport to prepare them for this upcoming winter season. As 
you mentioned, we worked with them to procure additional snow 
removal equipment, as well as work with them on their aircraft 
rescue and firefighting. Once the final investigation is 
completed, we will continue to work with them, as we do all 
airports, to ensure that they have a safe and efficient 
    Senator Collins. Thank you very much, and thank you for 
your assistance in that matter.
    Mr. Burleson if this question shouldn't be directed to you, 
feel free to pass it off to one of your colleagues. I am 
hearing a lot of complaints from my constituents in South 
Portland about increased noise from aircraft landing above 
their homes at night, often just 600 to 1,000 feet above their 
homes. While most aircraft use the harbor visual approach over 
Casco Bay during the daytime, they cannot rely on visual ground 
references at nighttime. And instead, they have to fly directly 
over the city of South Portland.
    The Portland Jetport has submitted to the FAA a request for 
a new Required Navigational Performance, or RNP, approach to 
provide another option for incoming flights that would 
approximate the harbor visual route at nighttime. Now, the FAA 
claims that very few of the aircraft coming into Portland have 
the proper equipment to be able to use an RNP. However, 
according to the airport director, if you take into 
consideration the fact that only commercial aircraft are 
causing the noise complaints at night, more than 21 percent of 
the aircraft would be able to use this new approach.
    I am seeking from you a commitment to take a hard look at 
this and to consider working with the Portland Jetport to get 
the RNP approach approved as quickly as possible, or if that is 
not the right answer, help us come up with the right answer to 
deal with this noise problem for the residents of South 
    Mr. Burleson. Senator, I am glad to make that commitment. 
Again, I was provided the same information, that only about 8 
percent of the aircraft are capable of an RNP approach. I will 
say, I understand that our air traffic folks have gone back to 
the noise roundtable with another proposal, which is to 
potentially change some waypoints on the existing procedures to 
see if that might also help address noise, given the problem of 
    But again, we recognize aircraft noise can be a 
considerable problem with local communities. We certainly are 
taking a lot of steps nationally to increasing technology 
insertion into the fleets, better community roundtables, trying 
to take advantage of some of the NextGen technologies to reduce 
noise. So, again, I am glad to commit to work with the 
roundtable to see what might be possible.
    Senator Collins. Thank you. I really appreciate that. And 
as I said, the jetport tells me that when you look at the fact 
that it is the commercial aircraft that are creating the noise, 
that the number who could use this new approach is actually 21 
percent. So that could make a significant difference. But you 
have a lot of expertise in this area, and I very much 
appreciate your commitment to work with the community and with 
the jetport.
    Senator Reed.
    Senator Reed. I simply want to point out, Madam Chairman, 
that on the way to Portland, you can stop in Providence, Rhode 
Island, at T.F. Green International Airport, and whatever you 
can do, we would appreciate it very much. But again, thank you, 
Ms. Lenfert, for your help, and Madam, thank you.
    Senator Collins. Thank you.
    Ms. Stubblefield, I don't want you to feel that I neglected 
you, so I will be certain to submit several questions to the 
record for you on drones and the integration of them into the 
airspace, and also the issue of counter drones and why FAA is 
not enthusiastic about that approach, or so it appears. But we 
will do that, and I know that Senator Reed will also have some 
additional questions for the record.
    I want to thank each of you for being here today. I want to 
follow up on a comment that Senator Durbin made earlier about 
the Government shutdown, and I want to applaud the work of the 
FAA during the shutdown. That was an extremely difficult period 
of time, and the FAA really rose to the challenge, and so I 
want to thank you for that.
    The FAA did not cause the shutdown. The shutdown never 
should have occurred. Shutdowns never produce good results, and 
they are never worthwhile. And I, for one, appreciate how hard 
your agency worked to get us through that very difficult 
    I know that it did set back one of the contracts for the 
NextGen by I believe around 7 months, and that is the unseen 
consequences. Those are the unseen consequences of Government 
shutdowns is that it prevents agencies from going forward with 
needed projects. And the irony is, we end up spending more in 
many cases than if Government had remained open. So I just 
wanted to add my comment on that.
    I do appreciate each of you being here today and candidly 
answering our questions. We are going to know more after the 
investigations are finished. I know that you are committed to 
finding out exactly what happened with the MAX and making sure 
that we have procedures and the staff and the resources in 
place to try to prevent such an accident from ever happening 
again and claiming not only 346 lives, but also causing 
tremendous heartache for the families and friends of those who 
were killed.


    Senator Collins. This hearing record will remain open until 
next Friday, August 9th, and the hearing is now adjourned.
            Questions Submitted by Senator Susan M. Collins
                       airport improvement grants
    Question. As I mentioned in my opening statement, this committee 
has provided $1.5 billion in supplemental AIP funding over the last 2 
years. We directed the FAA to give priority consideration to small and 
rural airports in making awards, and the FAA has already awarded $1 
billion of this funding to critical airport infrastructure projects 
across the country. In Maine, this funding has been beneficial to 
several airports, and I am particularly proud of the runway extension 
project in Rangeley, Maine that will allow increased access to 
aeromedical services in rural Maine. However, we have a similar project 
in Jackman, Maine, where the local airport needs additional funding to 
extend their runway.
    Ms. Lenfert, can you tell us the status of the FAA's work with 
Jackman's runway extension project?
    Answer. The town of Jackman is completing the environmental work 
required for permitting a proposed runway extension. The Environmental 
Assessment is expected to be completed by early Fall 2019. They are 
also refining the scope of the runway reconstruction that will use the 
funds we identified from the fiscal year 2018 Supplemental 
    Question. My understanding is that there were nearly eight times as 
many applications as available funding for the supplemental AIP.
    Ms. Lenfert, can you tell us what criteria the FAA used to award 
the limited funding?
    Answer. The FAA carefully considered the congressional direction in 
the 2018 appropriations legislation. This included the requirement to 
give ``Priority Consideration'' to certain types of airports (generally 
smaller and non-primary airports), as well as the 100 percent Federal 
share for non-primary airports. Congress also gave us more than 2 years 
to fully obligate the funds. This unprecedented combination of factors 
meant that many airports could request funding for projects that they 
would not have normally considered pursuing--and in many cases that 
included projects for which the airports had not yet completed the 
necessary planning, environmental review, engineering design, etc. The 
FAA still had to apply the usual criteria of eligibility, 
justification, and National Priority Ranking, as well as the airport's 
ability to implement the project in a timely manner.
    Question. As you know, airports like Jackman are eager to receive 
the remaining funding.
    What is the timing of awarding the $500 million from fiscal year 
2019 to the airports?
    Answer. We anticipate announcing the fiscal year 2019 supplemental 
discretionary grants by the end of fiscal year 2019. The FAA 
anticipates being able to start awarding some of the grants late in 
fiscal year 2019, with the remainder being issued throughout fiscal 
year 2020 and 2021 (when the selected airports have completed the 
remaining steps necessary to be able accept the grants).
                            uas integration
    Question. The integration of UAS, or drones, into our national 
airspace remains a challenge, particularly with the accelerating pace 
of technology development. What is particularly concerning are the 
growing use of drones operating near unauthorized locations such as 
airports. The FAA receives about 100 such reports every month, and has 
the authority to issue fines and criminal charges for unauthorized 
drone operators. However, FAA recently sent a letter to the airports 
saying that the agency does not support the use of counter UAS systems 
to detect and interdict unauthorized drones.
    Ms. Stubblefield, why is the FAA is not supportive of airports 
developing counter UAS systems at this time?
    Answer. We appreciate the level of focus that Congress has brought 
to this issue, including the provisions of section 383 in the FAA 
Reauthorization Act of 2018. The FAA understands that many airports 
have safety and security concerns with regard to the errant or 
malicious use of UAS on and around airports, and is taking steps to 
address them. Counter UAS (C-UAS) technologies implicate an assortment 
of laws, many of which are not within the FAA's jurisdiction. In 
addition, the FAA is exploring the possible unintended consequences of 
using detection or C-UAS technologies near airports. The FAA is 
coordinating with government partners and industry to properly address 
these concerns.
    On May 7, 2019, the FAA sent a letter to more than 500 U.S. airport 
sponsors explaining the agency's approach to the use of UAS detection 
and mitigation systems and some of the legal and operational issues 
involved. We also posted this letter on our website. The FAA continues 
to work closely with airports that are considering installing UAS 
detection systems or have already installed such systems on or near 
their airports. The agency expects to supplement this information with 
additional information related to UAS detection system coordination as 
we refine our processes and procedures for safe UAS detection system 
use at or around airports. The use of certain detection and any C-UAS 
mitigation systems in the United States is currently restricted by 
Federal criminal laws without express congressional authorization, 
which has only been granted to four Federal Departments for specific 
covered facilities, missions, and assets.
    In the May 2019 correspondence, the FAA also provided information 
regarding some areas of Federal law prohibiting the use of certain 
detection and any C-UAS (mitigation) technologies at or around 
airports. These systems could introduce unwarranted safety risks to the 
Nation's aviation system by interfering with aircraft equipment and air 
navigation services infrastructure; disrupting targeted as well as 
legitimate drone operations leading to hazardous flight behavior; and 
prompting operational responses that may not be adequately risk-based 
and coordinated. The FAA has been working closely with the Federal 
Departments--Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of 
Justice, Department of Defense (DoD), and Department of Energy--which 
Congress granted explicit authority to use C-UAS systems. The 
requirements for close coordination and collaboration with the FAA in 
those statutory grants of authority underscore the need to sustain the 
safety of our National Airspace System through carefully considered and 
coordinated actions. The FAA does not see a viable way for the risk 
analysis and mitigation work being carried out by the FAA and the 
authorized Federal Departments to be replicated across public airports 
in the foreseeable future without introducing unacceptable safety 
consequences. It is worth noting that airports have available to them 
other means of mitigating risks posed by errant and malicious UAS 
activity. For instance, the combined use of UAS detection capabilities, 
coordinated response plans for UAS incidents, as well as the 
development of incident-specific C-UAS plans with our Federal security 
partners, may prove to be effective strategies to mitigate the risk 
posed to airports by errant and malicious UAS activity.
    Question. It's my understanding that there are already FCC-licensed 
radar technologies that airports would like to use, but do not have 
clear guidance from the FAA on whether they are permissible or not.
    Can we get your commitment that the FAA will provide clear guidance 
on the use of these technologies to detect unauthorized drone 
    Answer. Entities seeking to evaluate or deploy UAS detection 
systems should be aware of legal considerations around such systems, 
even systems that are marketed as passive detection systems may 
implicate provisions of law (such as title 18 of the United States 
Code) on which the FAA cannot authoritatively opine. Therefore, the FAA 
cannot confirm the legality of any UAS detection system. An entity 
considering installation of a UAS detection system may wish to seek 
system-specific and site-specific guidance from its legal counsel and/
or the appropriate authorities in considering Federal, state, and local 
    The FAA is working with airports, as well as key industry 
associations, including the American Association of Airport Executives 
and Airports Council International-North America, to ensure compliance 
with the FAA's requirements on the installation of equipment, such as a 
radar system or similar technology, as well as to mitigate safety 
concerns with the installation of a detection system. It should be 
noted that radar systems cannot have national spectrum licensing 
approval, as approvals are site-specific. Licensing through FCC 
approval and in coordination with FAA's Spectrum Office is required for 
each site. The FAA is committed to expanding on those established 
processes to clarify how UAS detection systems may be installed and 
used at airports without undue, unacceptable safety and efficiency 
impacts to the Nation's aviation system. The publication of information 
on the FAA's website on May 7, 2019 is part of the FAA's effort to 
provide clarifying information. As stated above, the agency expects to 
supplement this publication with additional information related to UAS 
detection system coordination as we refine our processes and procedures 
for safe UAS detection system use at or around airports.
    Question. In two specific incidents at Gatwick last year and in 
Newark this year, pilots reported drones flying near their planes, but 
the existence of these unauthorized drones were never confirmed.
    What guidance is the FAA providing to pilots so they can better 
identify and avoid drones?
    Answer. The agency provides pilots with several resources to better 
prepare and assist them in identifying and avoiding drone activity in 
an effort to reduce potential flight hazards and safety risks. These 
resources include:

  --Notices to Airmen that notify pilots of potential hazards along a 
        flight route or at a location that could affect the safety of 
        the flight to include known drone operations;

  --Alerts by Air Traffic Control (ATC) that notify pilots of 
        potentially hazardous drone activity;

  --Ongoing development of geospatial maps that depict areas where 
        recreational drone operators may be flying; and

  --The FAA Aeronautical Information Manual, which is the FAA's 
        official guide to basic flight information and ATC procedures, 
        and includes a section on drones that highlights several 
        factors for pilots to consider in an effort to reduce potential 
        flight hazards.

    In addition, the FAA's regulations require drone operators to yield 
the right of way to all other aircraft, airborne vehicles, and launch 
and reentry vehicles. Yielding the right of way means the drone 
operator must give way to the aircraft or vehicle and may not pass 
over, under, or ahead of it unless well clear. The regulations also 
prohibit the drone operator from operating so close to another aircraft 
as to create a collision hazard. The FAA has provided guidance to drone 
operators on yielding the right of way and on avoiding interference 
with manned aircraft operations. This guidance is contained in Advisory 
Circular No. 107-2, Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS).
    The FAA is also working on a notice of proposed rulemaking for the 
remote identification of UAS flying in the national airspace. Remote 
identification will enhance safety, security, and privacy while serving 
as an important tool in responding to illegal and unauthorized drone 
operations. The FAA considers this technology essential for the safe 
integration of UAS into the national airspace system.
                         uas traffic management
    Question. The FAA is currently working to safely integrate drones 
into the national airspace through the UAS traffic management system, 
or UTM This approach is similar to how the FAA controls the airspace 
through air traffic control.
    Ms. Stubblefield, can you explain what level of control the FAA 
will have over drone operations through the UTM?
    Answer. The FAA works as both the regulator and Air Navigation 
Service Provider (ANSP) for the National Airspace System (NAS). The 
regulatory side of the FAA will maintain safety oversight over all 
aircraft operations through operational regulations. The Air Traffic 
Organization (ATO), as the ANSP, will continue to provide select 
services to ensure safety and efficiency in the NAS. We do not expect 
to control small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) at low altitudes as we 
do for manned aircraft. In airspace where ATO does not actively provide 
separation services to UAS, UAS Traffic Management (UTM) will allow 
airspace users to cooperatively manage their operations based on 
specific principles of operation identified in FAA policy and 
requirements. These principles will ensure interoperability through 
industry standards while supporting industry innovation, allowing 
technology and automation-driven solutions to lead the way. Currently, 
in controlled airspace, UTM operators, where authorized, cooperatively 
manage their operations; however, the ATO maintains its authority over 
the airspace and can intervene as necessary.
    Question. Last year, Sec. Chao announced the formation of a UAS 
Integration Pilot Program, which has now been on-going for over a year.
    What has the FAA learned from the IPP that will be useful in the 
development of the UTM?
    Answer. Through the UAS Integration Pilot Program (IPP), we 
continue to engage in meaningful dialogue with local and national 
governments and the UAS industry on issues related to drone 
    IPP participants are gathering data on radio frequency transmission 
capabilities from handheld radios and cellular networks. This 
information will be used to inform UTM communication requirements, 
specifically the capabilities and limitations associated with the 
transmission of data between unmanned aircraft, operators, and UAS 
Service Suppliers (USS). This data also enables the development of 
testing requirements and performance-based standards that will be used 
broadly across the UAS regulatory community.
    On a broader note, through our work with IPP partners we have 
learned that public engagement will be critical for routine operations, 
especially those enabled by UTM solutions. We have also observed that 
there is an overall positive sense toward integrating drones into 
communities. Societal acceptance will be predicated on the public 
expectation for safety in these new types of operations, just as in the 
airline industry. Working together, we can accelerate the development 
of the UTM ecosystem and usher in the necessary social transformation.
    Question. Ms. Stubblefield, can you tell us what specific FAA 
programs in the budget request are critical to further your work on 
drones and establishment of the UTM?
    Answer. Several programs in the fiscal year 2020 President's budget 
request are critical to further our work on drones and establish UTM. 
In the Facilities and Equipment account, the budget request includes 
$68.4 million under the heading ``NextGen--Unmanned Aircraft Systems'' 
and another $58.4 million under the heading ``Unmanned Aircraft System 
(UAS) Implementation.'' In addition, the budget request includes $7.5 
million for ``Unmanned Aircraft System Research'' in the Research, 
Engineering and Development account.
    Question. In February, Sen. Reed and I asked the GAO to conduct an 
assessment of cybersecurity risks associated with certification of 
aircraft avionics. GAO's assessment is currently underway, but I think 
it is important to know what the FAA is doing today on this issue.
    I would like to ask each of the panelists, what efforts is the FAA 
already undertaking to reduce its cybersecurity vulnerabilities?
    Answer. The FAA requires the applicant and/or manufacturer of 
transport category airplanes to ensure critical systems are protected 
against unauthorized intentional electronic interaction. As part of the 
certification process, applicants perform a security risk assessment 
and show the FAA how they are mitigating the identified risks or 
reducing the risks to an acceptable level. The FAA must agree that the 
applicant's assessment and mitigations are adequate. Examples of 
mitigations are physical control of maintenance, system separation, 
system error recognition, system redundancy, automatic access logging 
and pilot intervention against unusual behavior.
    The FAA has updated its policy, guidance material, and standards on 
safeguarding critical airplane systems. We have partnerships in place 
with the DHS and DoD for sharing information on identified aviation 
cyber vulnerabilities. We are forming partnerships with industry to 
implement cyber hygiene and best practices on a voluntary basis. We are 
also conducting research at the FAA Technical Center to develop a 
cyber-risk assessment methodology. This methodology will be used as new 
vulnerabilities arise to inform potential new requirements or 
mitigation strategies.
    Question. This Committee has provided increased funding over the 
last 2 years for the FAA to develop and implement an integrated Cyber 
Testbed at the FAA Technical Center.
    Mr. Burleson, can you tell us the status of work on the testbed?
    Answer. The integrated cyber testbed at the FAA Technical Center 
has been completed and is fully operational. The Cyber Test Facility, 
or CyTF, is used to test new cybersecurity products and technologies, 
perform penetration testing of FAA infrastructure, conduct incident 
response exercises, and support our cyber research and development 
efforts. We are currently expanding the facility, adding a new 
classified lab. The classified lab will allow the FAA to participate in 
classified exercises directly from the Technical Center, and conduct 
research and testing of FAA systems that interface with DoD and DHS 
systems. It will also give staff in New Jersey direct access to 
classified threat databases. The classified lab should be operational 
in the spring of 2020.
    Question. One of the concerns with cybersecurity that I hear about 
from virtually every Federal agency is the lack of technical expertise 
and difficulty in hiring the appropriate experts to work on these 
    Mr. Burleson, does FAA have the technical expertise to provide 
cybersecurity oversight of manufacturers as they development new 
    Answer. Yes, the FAA has the technical expertise to oversee 
avionics manufacturers as well as the airplane manufacturers that 
install avionics in their flight decks. The FAA ensures manufacturers 
meet all FAA safety requirements as part of the certification process, 
and the FAA is directly involved with the introduction of new avionics 
and technologies. In addition, the FAA leverages the industry's 
technical expertise, when needed.
    The FAA continues to make progress in improving information sharing 
with DHS and DoD. Information on possible cybersecurity vulnerabilities 
are shared and assessed, and mitigations are developed, when necessary. 
The FAA is collaborating with the Aerospace Industries Association to 
establish an industry stakeholder committee that will encourage 
voluntary adoption of cybersecurity best practices and, if necessary, 
mitigations. To properly address cybersecurity threats to aviation, 
partnering within the U.S. Government and with aviation stakeholders is 


            Questions Submitted by Senator Richard C. Shelby
    Question. Ms. Lenfert--Recently there has been much debate and 
press coverage regarding Chinese state sponsored companies building 
rail cars and busses that serve passengers around the county and, in 
particular, rail cars in the Washington D.C. area--rail cars that 
consistently stop in highly sensitive and secure areas such as the 
Pentagon and Reagan National Airport. These companies have an unfair 
monetary advantage over others and create concerns regarding our 
national security interests and intellectual property theft when 
conducting business with any state subsidized entity.
    It is my understanding that some foreign state-owned enterprises 
have attempted to enter into the U.S. market of passenger boarding 
bridges, which could have a number of cyber and data privacy concerns. 
Has your office been made aware of these concerns? If so, please share 
the efforts that you and your team are putting in place to ensure the 
safety of our transit systems and airport bridges across the country.
    Answer. The FAA is aware that there are concerns regarding a 
particular foreign-owned boarding bridge manufacturer, which had at one 
time entered into a joint venture with a U.S.-based manufacturer. That 
relationship has subsequently ended, but not before a U.S. airport 
entered into an agreement that appeared to make a commitment to 
purchase a minimum number of boarding bridges from the non-U.S. entity. 
That agreement has now sunset with no such purchase being made.
    The FAA is required to abide by the ``Buy American'' requirements 
in 49 U.S.C. Sec. 50101 in administering Airport Improvement Program 
(AIP) grants. The FAA also actively uses the Federal Suspension and 
Debarment system administered by the Office of Management and Budget 
through 2 CFR part 180. Under this system, businesses that have been 
suspended and/or debarred cannot receive federally funded contracts for 
a designated timeframe. For example, if the United States Trade 
Representative or other Federal Agency finds an entity to be in 
violation of Federal law, the agency may pursue suspension and 
debarment. This would prohibit AIP awards to those entities either 
directly or via contract at any tier.
    After careful consideration, the FAA does not believe that boarding 
bridges represent a cybersecurity vulnerability. Even the most 
sophisticated boarding bridges are rather limited in terms of actual 
integration with airport or FAA information technology systems. The 
boarding bridge itself is little more than a conduit for such data-
management systems, without a built-in data management capability or 
access points. Even if the boarding bridge were to be equipped with 
doors (near the aircraft-end of the bridge) that are linked to the 
airport's overall access-control system, this would still involve 
relatively simple cabling and local equipment.


              Questions Submitted by Senator John Boozman
    Question. Taxpayers across the country, including in Arkansas, 
point to government inefficiency in the delivery of infrastructure 
investments. Projects that should reasonably be completed in a few 
years typically last decades, delaying public benefits and 
exponentially increasing costs.
    How, if at all, can public-private-partnerships help accelerate 
infrastructure delivery and create better value for taxpayers?
    Answer. In the FAA's experience, most projects that face 
significant delays are due to either local community opposition, lack 
of consensus among the governing body, inability to secure critical 
real estate, or other similar circumstances.
    It is true that some airports face challenging local procurement 
rules, and highly complex projects can sometimes be impacted by 
miscommunication or disputes between owners, engineers, and 
contractors. There are a variety of alternative project-delivery 
methods that can help, including several forms of public-private 
partnership (P3) structures.
    The fundamental feature of a P3 is that the public agency grants a 
private entity the right to design, build, operate, maintain and (in 
many cases) finance major facilities or infrastructure for a specific 
period of time, while the public agency retains ownership of the asset. 
Key advantages include increased likelihood of project completion on 
time and within budget; single point of accountability; and increased 
likelihood of innovation (especially if there is a financial incentive 
to do so), all while retaining public ownership and control.
    The FAA is working closely with the Build America Bureau to educate 
the airport industry on the value of P3 strategies. We have jointly 
participated in conferences dedicated to this subject. Moreover, the 
Airports Cooperative Research Program (which the FAA administers in 
cooperation with the Transportation Research Board of the National 
Academies) held a three-day conference on P3 strategies. The FAA has 
also supported a number of case studies highlighting P3 projects, and 
is developing a consolidated web presence to address the subject.
    Question. The Essential Air Service (EAS) program is vitally 
important to Arkansas, along with every other rural state in the 
country, giving small towns access to air service. Not only does the 
Essential Air Service program provide safe and reliable transportation, 
but it also boosts the country's economy by providing access to 
businesses in rural areas. Historically, many presidents have chosen to 
reduce funding for the Essential Air Service program in their yearly 
budget requests to Congress.
    Can you please explain what a reduction of funding of the Essential 
Air Service program would mean for rural America?
    Answer. The requested fiscal year 2020 program level of $270 
million is required to maintain continuous, regularly scheduled air 
service to about 170 small communities across the nation, including 
about 60 in Alaska. DOT would use $20 million in carryover funds to 
maintain continuous operation of the program.
    Question. Section 242 of the most recent FAA reauthorization 
permits the FAA to accept foreign airworthiness directives under 
certain circumstances if the foreign regulator, like the European Union 
Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), is transparent and the FAA is confident 
in their capabilities as a regulator. As we were working on the FAA 
reauthorization last year, I understood this provision would, when 
implemented, improve safety and allow for a more efficient use of FAA 
    Would you agree with that assessment?
    Answer. The FAA appreciates the Committee's efforts to assist the 
FAA in maximizing the efficiency of our continued operational safety 
process. While section 242 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 
allows the Administrator to accept an airworthiness directive issued by 
a foreign civil aviation authority, it is not self-executing and will 
require additional action to implement.
    Question. Further, could you provide an update on the work being 
done to get this process in place given its safety benefits?
    Answer. The FAA is working to determine how the authority granted 
in section 242 can best be used, given other statutory constraints 
imposed by Congress upon the agency, to contribute to the efficient and 
timely incorporation of Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information 
from qualified foreign authorities.
    Question. As Co-Chair of the Senate General Aviation Caucus, I know 
many communities across the country rely on small and medium sized 
airports. In fact, in Arkansas, general aviation contributes 2.4 
percent of state GDP and supports more than $597 million annually in 
economic activity.
    One particular issue the general aviation community has been 
working to address is pricing and ramp transparency. Without it, 
private pilots have a hard time knowing what they will be charged 
before they land at an airport.
    What is the FAA's position on some sort for standardization of 
labeling airport ramp areas so general aviation pilots can easily 
identify these areas when looking to park their planes. Is the FAA 
currently taking any actions to ensure these ramps are transparent, 
standardized, and clearly identified on airport diagrams?
    Answer. Comparative pricing of airport services (other than fuel 
sales) has always been difficult because many Fixed Base Operators 
(FBOs) often discount prices or bundle services. Fuel prices are 
readily available on the Internet.
    After some encouragement by advocacy groups, some FBOs are posting 
their basic services and pricing. We believe the Government 
Accountability Office will be addressing this subject later this year 
when they release their report on FBO practices.
    On the subject of transparency and ramp charting, several 
associations (including the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, 
National Business Aviation Association, General Aviation Manufacturers 
Association, Experimental Aircraft Association, and the Helicopter 
Association International) met with the FAA's aeronautical charting 
staff to discuss the possibility of designating the types of ramps that 
would be available on an airport. The FAA was concerned that the 
discussion did not include airport representatives. As a result, the 
American Association of Airport Executives and the Airports Council 
International-North America are now engaged in the dialogue. The FAA 
also wants to ensure that additional information on ramp charts does 
not lead to confusion that creates potential safety risks.
    The FAA has encouraged the industry stakeholders to work together 
to come up with a solution. The FAA has no objection to the 
standardization of labelling airport ramp areas, but strongly prefers 
that industry work together to develop a consensus, voluntary solution. 
We are concerned about trying to establish and impose mandatory 


              Questions Submitted by Senator Steve Daines
    Question. I remain a supporter of the Contract Tower Program, as it 
is a cost-effective way to provide air-traffic control services at 
small and rural airports. However, the tower in my hometown of Bozeman 
continues to have staffing issues due to its rapid growth and location 
in a region that experiences heavy snowfall for more than half the 
year. Bozeman is currently the largest airport in the state in terms of 
both passengers and tower operations. Bozeman has seen a 24 percent 
increase in passenger traffic in just the first 6 months of this year 
compared to the same time last year. The airport supports the operation 
of the tower by paying about $200,000 annually to maintain and equip 
the tower and pay for additional staffing hours to provide 20-hour 
daily tower service.
    It is my understanding that Bozeman has submitted a request for the 
FAA to pay for the additional staffing hours. Will the FAA commit to 
reviewing the proposal and taking into account the uniqueness of 
Bozeman's situation mentioned above?
    Answer. Yes, the FAA has reviewed the Bozeman request. We 
understand Bozeman has experienced a 24 percent increase in passenger 
traffic in the first 6 months of this year. However, the tower 
operations count during the same period has increased by 15 percent. 
The increase in tower operations occurred during the core hours of 
operation, which are sufficiently staffed to handle the increases.
    FAA Order JO 7232.5G provides guidance on increasing or reducing 
hours of operation for air traffic control towers. The order lays out 
the criterion for an increase in hours as being ``more than 4 
operations per hour.'' Staffing hours for all towers--FAA and Federal 
contract towers (FCT)--are determined using hourly traffic count and 
current data. This data shows that additional hours of operation at 
Bozeman are unnecessary. If traffic at Bozeman at the times of interest 
were to increase to average 4 operations per hour then it would qualify 
to be funded for additional time. The current staffing plan provides 
adequate staffing for its hours of operation and traffic activity.
    An increase in traffic alone does not mean there is enough workload 
to justify an increase in staffing. FCTs provide visual flight rule 
(VFR) services similar to FAA VFR air traffic control towers. When 
comparing staffing between FAA facilities and FCT facilities, the same 
information is used to justify added staff. We analyze the category of 
traffic count, the airport complexity, airspace complexity, hours of 
operation, and single controller coverage. Traffic and staffing at 
Bozeman was evaluated at the beginning of this year. One of the factors 
considered was the opening of a new Runway 11/29--which has helped de-
conflict local pattern traffic from itinerant aircraft using Runway 12/
30 and reduced some of the controller workload. Overall, our analysis 
does not support increasing staffing hours at Bozeman.
    Question. FAA Order JO 7232.5G deals with increasing or reducing 
hours of operation for air traffic control towers. The order lays out 
the criteria for an increase in hours as being ``more than 4 operations 
per hour''. Bozeman is a small hub airport with significant terrain 
challenges that also lies in a region that experiences heavy, sustained 
snowfall. There have been numerous instances of conflicts between 
aircraft and snow removal equipment over the last 20 years. When it 
comes to the four operations per hour standard, given that clearance 
and coordination by the tower with snow plows and sweepers is similar 
to what occurs with aircraft, why hasn't the FAA considered including 
snow removal activities on the runways, etc. as an ``operation''?
    Answer. For the purpose of determining staffing FAA uses hourly air 
traffic operations to make the determination. Ground operations such as 
snow removal, sweeper operation, airfield lighting checks, runway 
checks, etc. are not considered special circumstances for determining 
staffing. Airports have procedures to allow for ground operations and 
an extensive training program for the operators. Ground operations are 
normal operations that occur at airports across the nation after tower 
closures and at uncontrolled airports with no towers.
    Question. Additionally, Joint Order 7232.5G specifically mentions 
in Service Hours that ``Occasionally, early opening or late closing of 
the facility may be necessary to accommodate special circumstances.'' 
Do snow removal operations constitute a ``special circumstance'' that 
FAA would accommodate for additional hours? If no, what is FAA's 
    Answer. No, snow operations are ground operations, similar to 
sweeper operations, runway checks, runway and taxiway light checks, 
etc., which are considered normal operations. Special circumstances 
arise when non-recurring unscheduled activities or events occur and 
require staffing to accommodate the special operations, which could 
include the tower remaining open late (at no cost to the government) 
for a special event or weather incident. Additionally, Joint Order 
7232.5G specifically mentions in Service Hours that ``Occasionally, 
early opening or late closing of the facility may be necessary to 
accommodate special circumstances.'' The guidance for ``occasionally'' 
is covered in Order JO 7210.3BB, Subject: Facility Operation and 
Administration. ``Early opening or late closing may be occasionally 
necessary to accommodate traffic which may otherwise divert or cancel 
its operation because air traffic control is not available at the 
airport.'' This guidance is not applicable for permanent operations, 
which refers to the tower remaining open for the specified hours 365 
days, as requested by Bozeman.
    Question. Section 327 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 (PL 
115-254) mandated that the FAA develop and implementation plan to 
provide approach control radar to airports currently served by FAA 
towers with nonradar approach and departure control. The Helena 
Regional Airport in Helena, Montana is one such airport for which this 
section was included. Could you please provide an update on the status 
of implementing this section, particularly with respect to Helena?
    Answer. Section 327 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 (PL 115-
254) mandated that the FAA develop an implementation plan to provide 
approach control radars to airports currently served by FAA towers with 
non-radar approach and departure control. The Helena Regional Airport 
in Helena, Montana is one such airport for which this section was 
included. We are now looking at the budgetary and flight volume 
considerations of providing Helena with approach control radar 
services. A determination will be complete by the end of 2019.


                Questions Submitted by Senator Jack Reed
    Question. Ms. Lenfert, I want to thank you for the grant that the 
T.F. Green airport received out of the 2018 competition to address its 
runway safety needs. While the grant was substantial, it is only half 
of what is needed to complete the overall project. When awards were 
made, there was a footnote that the FAA would work to identify 
resources in order to complete partially funded projects.
    Will there be an opportunity in the remaining discretionary awards 
that have yet to be released this year, or the next general fund 
competition for fiscal year 2019, or both?
    Answer. The FAA reviews AIP discretionary funding requests on a 
recurring basis. The $30 million grant that the FAA gave to Providence 
T.F. Green was the single largest grant made under the 2018 
Supplemental Appropriation, and fully funded the Runway 16/34 
reconstruction project. The sponsor did request funds for taxiway work 
as well, and the FAA will be able to consider those elements for future 
Federal funds after the planning and environmental work are completed.
    Question. With the budget agreement in 2018, this Subcommittee was 
able to increase the funding levels for AIP grants by $1.5 billion over 
2 years making a total of $8.2 billion available to airports to make 
critical safety improvements.
    As we evaluate infrastructure investments for the 2020 fiscal year, 
what have airports reported to you on their needs and capacity to spend 
in a timely manner?
    Answer. As required by law, the FAA published the biennial National 
Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS) Report in September 2018, 
showing $35.1 billion in AIP-eligible projects for 2019-2023. That 
translates to about $7.02 billion annually. The funding requests the 
FAA received in response to the 2018 Supplemental Appropriation 
validated this figure, with more than $8.4 billion in eligible 
requests. The FAA is confident that the Nation's airports can use any 
available funds quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively, if the 
funds are available early enough each fiscal year to enable the 
airports to take advantage of the full construction season.
    Question. With the expanded authorities of the most recent FAA 
authorization bill making a broader category of terminal projects 
eligible for general fund AIP grants, how does that impact program 
demand for these limited resources?
    Answer. The FAA's September 2018 NPIAS report identified $35.1 
billion in total unfunded needs for AIP projects. Of the unfunded 
needs, the report identified $25 billion (73.4 percent) for safety, 
security, reconstruction, and standards projects and $4.1 billion (11.6 
percent) for terminal development. However, the FAA believes this 
figure for terminal development may be low. Although the FAA recognizes 
the importance of terminal projects, their priority is low when 
compared to safety, security, reconstruction, and standards projects. 
As a result, some airports may not include all needed terminal work in 
their capital improvement plans, especially when prioritizing larger 
safety, capacity, or standards projects.
    Many larger airports increasingly rely on Passenger Facility 
Charges (PFCs) for terminal projects for several reasons: limited 
amount of AIP funds available for lower priority projects; a greater 
degree of local control; better predictability in terms of timing; 
broader flexibility on procurement processes, including alternative 
project delivery methods as well as public-private partnerships; and 
the ability to leverage the funds by using them as a dedicated funding 
source for repayment of bonds.
    The FAA will continue to work with airport sponsors to identify 
terminal development needs. The FAA will also consider and prioritize 
them where possible among the many competing requests for funding for 
any supplemental appropriations.
    Question. Have you notified your field offices of this new 
authority so that they are properly communicating with airports that 
are planning to compete for funding in the next competition?
    Answer. The FAA has notified its field offices of the new 
authority, and those offices are in constant communication with both 
airports and state aeronautical agencies about airport capital 
improvement planning. Additionally, the FAA posted information on its 
public website related to the new authority associated with the most 
recent supplemental appropriation and future appropriations that may be 
made available under this provision of the statute.
    Question. A great deal of work is required from your office to 
evaluate and award funding, as well as to oversee the effective use of 
taxpayer resources.
    How has this increased tempo affected your staff resources?
    Answer. The additional funding has increased the workload for our 
staff. We deeply appreciate that the appropriations bills have allowed 
a small percentage of the funds (half of one percent) to be used for 
administrative purposes, to garner the additional resources needed to 
oversee the effective use of public funds. One of the key reasons that 
our people are so effective in managing AIP grants is that most of the 
people involved are either airport planners, engineers specializing in 
airfield pavement or electrical systems, or other categories of 
technical experts. The additional funding does force these employees to 
defer other time-critical work within their range of competencies. 
Therefore, if supplemental appropriations are going to become a long-
term reality, then we may at some point need to consider supplementing 
the staff that administers the program.
                 counter unmanned aircraft system (uas)
    Question. Ms. Stubblefield, based on your work with other Federal 
agency partners and the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Task Force 
on UAS mitigation, what steps are you pursuing to authorize additional 
users to mitigate UAS threats to airports and commercial aviation?
    Answer. The FAA understands the safety and security concerns of 
many airports relative to the errant or malicious use of UAS on and 
around airports, and is taking steps to address them. In early May, the 
FAA provided information to airport sponsors to explain some of the 
legal and operational issues they may want to consider and our approach 
to the use of UAS detection and mitigation systems.
    There are currently available options for government and private 
sector entities to use certain UAS detection technologies. In order to 
support the safe integration of UAS detection systems into the airport 
environment, the FAA published important information for airport 
sponsors on May 7, 2019--it is available on the FAA website--and 
continues to work closely with airports who are considering installing 
UAS detection systems or have already installed such systems on or near 
their airports. The agency expects to supplement this information with 
additional information related to UAS detection system coordination as 
we refine our processes and procedures for safe UAS detection system 
use and coordinated operational response at or around airports. Some 
detection systems also permit the location of the operator, which 
enables law enforcement to conduct real-time response. Detection is a 
necessary and, sometimes, sufficient tool to be able to mitigate 
potential UAS threats.
    In that May 7 correspondence, the FAA also provided information 
regarding the prohibition on the use of Counter-UAS, or C-UAS, 
(mitigation) technologies at or around airports. These systems could 
introduce unwarranted safety risks to the Nation's aviation system by: 
interfering with aircraft equipment and air navigation services 
infrastructure; disrupting targeted as well as legitimate drone 
operations leading to hazardous flight behavior; and prompting 
operational responses that may not be adequately risk-based and 
coordinated. Although the FAA does not have authority to deploy C-UAS 
technology, nor to delegate such authority, the agency has been working 
closely with the four Federal Departments, to which Congress has 
granted explicit authority to use C-UAS systems. The requirements for 
close coordination and collaboration with the FAA in those statutory 
grants of authority underscore the need to sustain the safety of our 
National Airspace System through carefully considered and coordinated 
actions. Further, the FAA sees the combination of the expanding usage 
of UAS detection capabilities, development of coordinated response 
plans for UAS incidents, and the movement toward Remote Identification 
and other UAS Traffic Management (UTM), as well as development of 
incident-specific counter-UAS plans with our Federal security partners, 
as an effective strategy to mitigate the risk posed to airports by 
errant and malicious UAS activity.
    Question. What additional authorities, including criminal 
penalties, should be considered to guard against the use of drones as 
weapons or instruments of terrorism?
    Answer. The FAA does not currently anticipate the need for 
additional civil authorities as it relates to the use of unmanned 
aircraft as weapons. We defer to our security partners regarding any 
additional criminal provisions that should be considered.
           emergency medical kits (emks) and opioid overdoses
    Question. Opioid-related overdoses continue to be a significant 
public health challenge and hazard. In February, the Association of 
Flight Attendants wrote to urge the Federal Aviation Administration 
(FAA) to issue regulations requiring that the Emergency Medical Kits 
include naloxone nasal spray to treat opioid overdoses.
    Sadly, a few weeks ago, a passenger died of an overdose on a 
domestic flight. The airline in that case announced in March that it 
would begin the process of adding naloxone to its enhanced Emergency 
Medical Kits, although it is not required by the FAA. Unfortunately, in 
this case, it appears that the aircraft was not equipped with a new 
medical kit.
    Mr. Burleson, is the FAA considering requiring the addition of 
naloxone to emergency medical kits?
    Answer. The FAA last revised emergency medical equipment 
regulations prior to the onset of the opioid crisis. As such, the 
opioid antagonist (naloxone) did not flag as an item for potential 
inclusion in the kits. The FAA periodically reviews the kits and most 
recently requested the Aerospace Medical Association (ASMA) to review 
the existing content of required kits and make recommendations about 
revisions. The FAA received recommendations from ASMA and completed its 
review of them in late August. ASMA has recommended that naloxone be 
added to the kit. The FAA would agree that any revision should include 
an opioid antagonist.
    Updating the kits would require rulemaking. A new regulation would 
impose cost on the air carrier operators and their kit suppliers to 
procure new kits and retrofit their fleets with them. It also would 
require new familiarization training for crewmembers. For past 
revisions of the kits, the FAA set a 3-year compliance date as it takes 
time to refurbish the fleets and retrain crewmembers.
    Question. How quickly could such a change be made? And what are 
airlines doing on their own?
    Answer. Some air carriers carry naloxone voluntarily and more may 
be considering it. Although an opioid antagonist is not specifically 
required, air carriers certainly are not precluded from carrying it. As 
mentioned in our response to the previous question, a change to require 
naloxone in the emergency medical kits would require the FAA to engage 
in rulemaking to comply with APA requirements. For past revisions of 
the kits, the FAA set a 3-year compliance date as it takes time to 
refurbish the fleets and retrain crewmembers.
                     pfas/airport firefighting foam
    Question. Ms. Lenfert, airports and local communities are 
struggling to eliminate the category of chemicals known as PFAS, which 
has been shown to have negative impacts on public health and the 
environment. Because of the widespread use of firefighting foam, we are 
attempting to address a host of issues related to PFAS in the NDAA bill 
currently in conference. This includes everything from research and 
monitoring to clean-ups. In the 2018 FAA Authorization law, Congress 
also granted the FAA authority to approve alternative types of 
firefighting foam, but FAA regulations still require airports to use 
foam containing PFAS.
    Can you explain what the FAA is doing to assess and approve 
alternative firefighting foam that does not pose a risk to public 
health or the environment?
    Answer. The FAA shares your concern on the environmental impact of 
PFAS. We are aware that the NDAA provision has sparked some concerns 
from airport associations and individual airports especially regarding 
environmental cleanup responsibility. The FAA is working diligently on 
solutions involving aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) alternatives. For 
example, the FAA's Technical Center is currently building a dedicated 
Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) research facility to be 
completed in the fall of 2019, with the focus on testing AFFF 
alternatives. One of the goals is to find alternative firefighting 
agents that are environmentally friendly, while providing the same 
level of safety currently offered by MIL-PRF-24385 AFFF. FAA 
researchers have developed a research plan, which outlines the tasks 
necessary to reach a goal of eliminating PFAS from firefighting foams. 
This tasks included in the research plan are a literature review, gap 
analysis, and selection of candidate products to be live-fire tested in 
the FAA's new facility. We recently finished the gap analysis that 
examined current research and regulations regarding the use of 
fluorinated AFFF at airports, fluorine-free foams, and associated 
chemical compounds. The results are under review.
    We are also working closely with the Department of Defense (DoD) 
and their research into AFFF. We have a research agreement with the 
United States Air Force research center at Tyndall Air Force Base, 
where we are able to utilize their chemists to perform chemical 
composition analysis. An essential part of the research is to ensure 
that no emerging chemicals of concern are being used to replace current 
fluoro-chemical formulations.
    DoD is also setting up a task force dedicated to this issue and the 
FAA requested to be included, but it is internal to DoD. DoD has 
assured us they will keep the FAA apprised of status and progress. We 
have been invited (and have agreed) to participate on other DoD AFFF 
Working Groups, both at the action officer and executive level.
    While we are researching alternative AFFF products, in the interim, 
we have made immediate changes to greatly reduce the exposure of PFAS 
into the environment. In January 2019, we evaluated and approved three 
input-based foam proportioner testing systems as replacement test 
methods for discharging foam from ARFF vehicles. Input-based testing 
does not discharge AFFF into the environment. Furthermore, in June 
2019, we issued a program guidance letter explaining AIP funding 
eligibility determinations and justifications for purchasing these 
    Question. Do we need to accelerate research and testing for this 
activity in the FAA's Research and Development account?
    Answer. Construction of the ARFF research facility is well 
underway, and full-scale testing of potential replacement agents will 
begin after completion of the facility. In the meantime, the FAA has 
been preparing for future testing by conducting the gap analysis and 
associated research, as previously described. Both of these efforts 
were necessary before the start of the live-fire testing portion of the 
research program. Discussions with foam manufacturers on partnering on 
the research program have also begun and will continue throughout the 
program. We do not believe additional resources are needed at this 
                       faa network modernization
    Question. The FAA's existing network is a patchwork of customized 
solutions that is a generation behind modern telecommunications 
    How will the FAA's evaluation criteria ensure their new network 
contract will promote continual modernization efforts and will 
encourage the adoption of commercial networking capabilities over 
highly customized solutions?
    Answer. A fundamental objective of the FAA Enterprise Network 
Services (FENS) program is to better align the FAA with the direction 
of the commercial marketplace relative to networking capabilities and 
technologies. The evaluation criteria defined for the FENS source 
evaluation emphasize the ability of offerors to meet the FAA's 
requirements for communication services as they evolve through 2035 as 
FAA systems modernize their communications interfaces. In addition, the 
FAA is providing offerors with the flexibility to propose the 
categories of services that will comprise the FENS Service Catalog so 
they can leverage their standard commercial offerings rather than 
forcing them into an FAA-defined construct. Lastly, the FENS evaluation 
criteria will promote the introduction of new service offerings and 
technologies throughout the contract period of performance.


            Questions Submitted by Senator Dianne Feinstein
                            noise disruption
    Question. Many of the communities neighboring airports in my state 
have been impacted by implementation of Metroplex. What has FAA done to 
minimize noise disruption for those impacted by changing flight 
patterns and ensure that collaboration with these communities 
    Answer. The FAA remains committed to engaging with communities in a 
meaningful way around airspace changes. Through the Regional 
Administrator's office, the FAA engages with communities through 
community roundtables and community workshops. The FAA also stays 
closely engaged with airports and airlines to educate stakeholders and 
communities on all of the challenges as the demand on our system 
continues to grow. The aviation sector is experiencing very strong 
growth. In the Bay Area, operations at San Francisco International 
Airport (SFO), Oakland International Airport, and San Jose 
International Airport (SJC) have increased 27 percent over the last 4 
years (2014-2018)--which equates to more than 141,000 additional flight 
    The FAA Regional Administrator's office along with technical 
support from air traffic services and the service center regularly 
attends the SFO Technical Working Group and full Roundtable meeting, 
the Oakland Noise Forum, and the Santa Clara Santa Cruz Ad Hoc 
committee meetings, which represents communities adjacent to SJC.
    In addition to engaging with communities, the FAA has a research 
program to both understand and mitigate the impacts of aviation noise 
on communities. The research program includes the development of the 
Aviation Environmental Design Tool (AEDT), which can simultaneously 
calculate noise, emission and fuel burn based on radar tracks and 
aircraft performance data. AEDT is used not only in the U.S., but also 
by aviation professionals in 35 other countries, as well as the 
International Civil Aviation Organization to inform international 
standard setting. Through the ASCENT Center of Excellence and the 
Airport Cooperative Research Program, the FAA is also supporting 
research to understand the impacts of aviation noise on health, sleep, 
annoyance, and children's learning. Through the Continuous Lower 
Emissions Energy and Noise (CLEEN) Program, a public private 
partnership between FAA and industry, we are accelerating the 
development of technologies to reduce noise and emissions while 
improving energy efficiency. The research program provides the data 
that is used to inform the development of policies and standards such 
as noise stringencies for noise certification. Through ASCENT, it is 
also supporting the exploration of ways to improve operational 
procedure concepts to reduce noise exposure from both aircraft and 
helicopters. The FAA also continues to provide both financial and 
technical support for collaborative noise compatibility planning 
through the Part 150 program, which provides a structured process for 
airports, airlines and other aeronautical users, neighboring 
communities, and the FAA to work together to reduce incompatible land 
uses around airports.
                          safety certification
    Question. What actions will you take to remedy the weaknesses in 
our certification process?
    Answer. Continuous improvement is part of the FAA's safety culture. 
Our commitment to safety demands that we continuously strive to learn 
from our experiences and use those lessons to strengthen our processes. 
To this end, the FAA has invited external review and scrutiny of our 
certification process in general, and the certification of the 737 MAX 
specifically. These include reviews by the Joint Authorities Technical 
Review and the Special Committee on Aircraft Certification, among 
others. The findings and recommendations from these reviews, the 
accident investigations, and other sources of relevant information will 
provide important input as we continue to pursue improvements in our 
processes and policies.
    Question. What actions will you take to strengthen whistleblower 
protections? The Boeing 737 MAX crashes likely would have been avoided 
had FAA and Boeing employees felt free to frankly express their 
concerns not only to their superiors but publicly.
    Answer. Safety requires the open and transparent exchange of 
information. We know that it takes communication, and common safety 
objectives to allow the FAA and the aviation community to identify 
system hazards and quickly implement safety solutions. This approach 
gives us knowledge that we would not otherwise have about events and 
risks in almost real time. Sharing safety issues, trends, and lessons 
learned is critical to recognizing whatever might be emerging as a risk 
in the system. The more data we have, the more we can learn about the 
system, which in turn allows us to better manage and improve the 
    The FAA takes seriously safety reports and thoroughly investigates 
all allegations, including disclosures by employees. FAA employees have 
the right to raise concerns internally and externally if they feel 
safety is being compromised. There are separate processes to ensure 
whistleblowers are protected from retaliation and if retaliation 
occurs, corrective action is taken including disciplining the manager. 
The FAA maintains a hotline through which FAA employees can and do 
report safety concerns. The FAA's Office of Audit and Evaluation has a 
staff of investigators and subject matter experts who investigate and 
make findings on claims of whistleblower retaliation for making safety 
    Additionally, the Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) provides 
a protected avenue for anyone to share safety information. NASA 
maintains the ASRS and ensures that ASRS reports are redacted for any 
identifiable information of the reporter making a disclosure. The focus 
is on the disclosure itself and not the identity of the person making 
the disclosure. More than one million reports have been submitted to 
ASRS and not once has a reporter's identity been revealed. After the 
recent 737 MAX crashes, the FAA reviewed ASRS reports that referenced 
the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) and/or 
controllability issues with the Boeing 737 MAX. In no case did the 
reporting party state that the problems experienced were due to the 
MCAS system.
    In addition, the FAA regulations require Organization Designation 
Authorization (ODA) holders to ensure that no conflicting non-ODA unit 
duties or other interference affects the performance of authorized 
delegated functions by ODA unit members. Processes for addressing undue 
pressure are contained within the FAA-approved procedures manual. FAA 
inspectors regularly perform oversight on the ODA to ensure they adhere 
to these processes and that reported employee complaints are properly 
documented, investigated, and resolved. Additionally, ODA employees use 
the FAA hotline to report safety concerns, including concerns about 
undue pressure from companies. ODA employees also have the option to 
submit safety reports via the ASRS.
    Question. Will you ask for increased funding specifically for 
increasing the number of FAA engineers and other FAA safety and human 
factors experts and their technical expertise to be able to effectively 
oversee aircraft design and certification?
    Answer. Safety oversight is our top priority. We strive to maintain 
adequate staffing numbers so we can execute our statutory and 
regulatory responsibilities. We believe we currently have the necessary 
number of engineers, safety, and human factors experts to ensure our 
oversight role is effective. In addition, the FAA leverages the 
industry's technical expertise, when needed.
    It is possible that recommendations from the various reviews and 
investigations may indicate a need for additional staffing. Upon 
receiving these recommendations, the FAA will determine if there are 
any additional resource needs.
                      faa and boeing relationship
    Question. Can you explain how FAA's outsourcing of aircraft 
certification affected the determination of the dangers that MCAS 
    Answer. The FAA does not ``outsource'' certification or allow 
applicants to ``self-certify.'' Delegation has been a vital part of our 
safety system since the passage of the Air Commerce Act in the 1920s, 
which created the foundation for the Civil Aeronautics Administration 
and eventually the FAA. The FAA utilizes delegation to leverage outside 
technical expertise, enabling us to focus on areas of highest risk.
    The aircraft certification process comprises 4 functions: 1) 
determination of the applicable design standards (certification basis); 
2) planning and standards; 3) analysis and testing; and 4) final 
decision and certification of design. The FAA determines the 
certification basis, identifies the standards, makes all key and final 
decisions, and is directly involved in testing of new and novel 
features and technologies. The work FAA delegates primarily relate to 
analysis and testing and involve lower risk and routine items. The FAA 
does not delegate the other functions.
    Following its standard procedures, the FAA determined that the 737 
MAX project would qualify as an amended type certificate project. The 
FAA identified what items would be delegated to the Boeing ODA to 
approve and which would be retained by the FAA for approval. Boeing 
first applied for an amended type certificate for this aircraft in 
January 2012. As a result, of regular meetings between the FAA and 
Boeing teams, the FAA determined that the project qualified as an 
amended type certificate project eligible for management by the Boeing 
ODA. The FAA was directly involved in the System Safety Review of MCAS.
    The process from initial application to final certification took 5 
years; the FAA added the 737 MAX to the 737 type certificate in March 
2017. The process included 297 certification flight tests, some of 
which encompassed tests of the MCAS functions. FAA engineers and flight 
test pilots were involved in the MCAS operational evaluation flight 
test. The certification process was detailed and thorough, but, as is 
the case with newly certified products, time yields more data to be 
applied for continued analysis and improvement. As we obtain pertinent 
data and information, identify potential risk, or learn of a system 
failure, we analyze it; find ways to mitigate the risk; and, if 
necessary, require operators to implement the mitigation.
    The FAA focused significant resources on certification of the 737 
MAX--over 110,000 hours of FAA staff time were devoted to this effort.
    Continuous improvement is part of the FAA's safety culture and we 
are always looking to improve our processes. To this end, Secretary 
Chao and the FAA have invited external review of our certification 
process in general, and the certification of the 737 MAX specifically. 
The findings and recommendations from these reviews, the accident 
investigations, and other sources of relevant information will provide 
important input as we continue to pursue improvements in our processes 
and policies.
    Question. How are you ensuring the FAA internal analysis, including 
the Transport Airplane Risk Assessment Methodology, be taken seriously 
and more promptly for future actions, including grounding until design 
or operational changes are undertaken for unacceptably high risks?
    Answer. Safety is the agency's first priority. We use a risk based, 
data-driven process to assess aircraft safety when we receive reports 
of high-risk service difficulties in the fleet. Tools such as the 
Transport Airplane Risk Assessment Methodology (TARAM) are an integral 
part of the process. We use TARAM whenever there is a serious safety 
issue on transport-category U.S. manufactured aircraft. The results of 
the TARAM process provide our specialists with key information about 
how best to manage the risk posed by a specific issue, including 
guidance on the urgency of the action needed. The FAA acts promptly 
based on that information and works diligently to provide the aviation 
community with the information they need to correct the unsafe 
    Question. What actions will you take to align incentives 
consistently for the safety of the traveling public and aircrews, and 
correct for the inherent conflicts of interest in the current process?
    Answer. The use of designation, in some form, has been a vital part 
of our safety system since the 1920s. Congress has continually expanded 
the designee program since creation of the FAA in 1958, and it is 
critical to the success and effectiveness of the certification process. 
Under this program, the FAA may delegate a matter related to aircraft 
certification to a qualified private person or organization. This is 
not self-certification; the FAA retains strict oversight authority. The 
program allows the FAA to leverage its resources and technical 
expertise while holding the applicant accountable for compliance. 
During the past few years, Congress has endorsed the FAA's delegation 
authority, including in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, which 
directed the FAA to delegate more certification tasks to the designees 
we oversee.
    Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) is a privilege granted 
to certificate holders who meet stringent eligibility requirements, 
including technical capability, professional integrity, and a history 
of compliance. The FAA routinely conducts oversight of ODA holders and 
may modify or terminate the delegation for a variety of reasons, 
including improper performance. While the FAA is not involved in how 
aviation manufacturers compensate their employees, with respect to ODA 
holders, the FAA can intervene if we see any evidence that the safety 
of the product may be in jeopardy due to financial pressures.
    Question. Will you commit to mandating that those manufacturer 
employees who do work on behalf of FAA for aircraft certification 
include FAA during the hiring process and not solely the companies FAA 
oversees? What steps will you commit to take to ensure that they can 
have the independence to act in the public interest free from 
inappropriate pressure?
    Answer. An ODA is the means by which FAA grants authority to 
organizations or companies to conduct various functions on the agency's 
behalf using FAA approved certification standards. Unit members (or 
company employees) of an ODA are not FAA employees. However, in their 
delegated capacity, the ODA members perform certification functions on 
behalf of the FAA. For newly established ODAs, the FAA evaluates all 
proposed unit members. Often the individuals selected have prior 
engagement and experience with the FAA. As the FAA gains experience and 
confidence with an ODA, the FAA gradually reduces the review of new 
members. In addition, during our regular audits we evaluate how the ODA 
follows their FAA-approved process for selecting and vetting new 
    FAA retains strict oversight authority of ODAs. Our oversight 
consists of supervising and evaluating the ODA's personnel, procedures, 
projects, activities, and overall performance.
    In their FAA-approved procedures manual, we require ODA holders to 
have processes that mitigate undue pressure. FAA inspectors perform 
oversight on the ODA to ensure they adhere to the process and that 
reported employee complaints are properly documented, investigated, and 
resolved. Additionally, ODA employees can and do use the FAA Hotline to 
report safety concerns, including undue pressure from companies.
                            fuel efficiency
    Question. What has FAA done to ensure airlines are using more fuel 
efficient designs and newer, lower carbon fuels?
    Answer. The FAA is ensuring airlines use more fuel-efficient 
designs by regulatory action and by working with industry to advance 
the development of more efficient technologies and sustainable aviation 
    From a regulatory perspective, the FAA developed, with other 
nations, through the International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) 
Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection, an airplane fuel 
efficiency standard for civil subsonic jet and propeller-driven 
airplanes (a.k.a. CO2 standard). This international standard, if 
adopted, would establish a minimum fuel efficiency that all commercial 
airplanes will have to meet. Aircraft types that are currently in 
production would need to meet a minimum fuel efficiency standard by 
January 1, 2028. New aircraft types (i.e., those that are certified for 
airworthiness after January 1, 2020) would have to meet a more 
stringent fuel efficiency requirement. The FAA anticipates promulgating 
the international standard into U.S. regulations in the near future.
    The FAA is also working with industry through the public-private 
partnership of the Continuously Lower Energy, Emissions, and Noise 
(CLEEN) Program (http://faa.gov/go/cleen), to accelerate the 
development of technologies that improve fuel efficiency while lowering 
noise and emissions. The technologies being pursued under the CLEEN 
Program often both provide fuel efficiency improvements while also 
yielding benefits to noise and/or emissions. Once entered into service, 
the CLEEN technologies will realize their fuel efficiency and 
environmental benefits throughout the fleet for years to come.
    The FAA is supporting airlines in their pursuit of sustainable 
aviation fuels by funding testing to ensure the fuels are safe for use; 
funding research to quantify the environmental benefits of the fuels to 
support their inclusion within the ICAO Carbon Offsetting and Reduction 
Scheme for International Aviation; and supporting public-private 
coordination between the aviation and energy industries and government 
agencies. These efforts are conducted through our Center of Excellence 
(www.ascent.aero) and via FAA co-sponsorship, alongside the aviation 
industry, with the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative, or 
CAAFI (www.caafi.org).
             Questions Submitted by Senator Richard Durbin
    Question. The five year FAA reauthorization bill passed by Congress 
last year required the FAA to issue a new regulation by this fall 
mandating secondary cockpit barriers on all newly manufactured 
aircraft. Installing secondary cockpit barriers was a key 
recommendation of the 9/11 Commission. Stakeholders, including the 
airline pilots and flight attendants union, had been pushing for 
Congress and the FAA to require those barriers since the Commission's 
recommendation, and they were finally successful in getting the 
provision included in last year's FAA reauthorization. Now, the FAA is 
signaling that it will delay issuing the new regulation. Instead, they 
have said that the issue requires further study and have created an 
advisory committee to look into the issue despite already studying the 
issue in 2011. The unions are now concerned that the FAA may recommend 
applying the barriers to only new types of aircraft or creating an 
alternative means of compliance, which could delay the mandate by 
decades. I want to be clear: the FAA must comply with Congress' clear 
intent to have these barriers installed on all new passenger aircraft 
by October of this year.
    Will the order for secondary barriers be issued by the FAA this 
    Answer. The applicability of section 336 of the Act is not limited 
to new designs, but applies to each new manufactured aircraft operating 
under 14 CFR part 121, ranging from regional to very large transport 
    The FAA has tasked the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee to 
provide recommendations for the implementation of this provision. The 
advisory committee's advice will help the FAA develop a rule that 
provides the technical information that manufacturers can follow to 
meet the legislation, as well as other information on costs and 
benefits required by the rulemaking process. While the October 2019 
timeframe will not be met, the FAA believes the recommendations made by 
the advisory committee will allow for the most effective approach to 
    Question. Over 3,000 aviation safety professionals were furloughs 
during the harmful 35-day government shutdown caused by President Trump 
earlier this year. Another 15,000 controllers and aviation safety 
professionals worked without pay. It's been 6 months since the 
government reopened, and we're still feeling the impacts of the 
shutdown on our air traffic control system. The air traffic 
controllers' union reports that the shutdown led to early retirements 
and delayed classes at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) 
Academy, causing some students to drop out. For an organization already 
experiencing a worker shortage and for controllers who have been forced 
to work longer hours for too long, the shutdown caused serious damage; 
and, the FAA has reportedly had to lower its hiring target from 1400 
this year down to 900. The shutdown also negatively affected the 
implementation of new safety systems including the Arrival Prediction 
Alerting System (ATAP), a safety system that can alert a pilot if they 
are about to land on the wrong runway and need to circle the airport. 
Six months after the shutdown, can you give us an update on the size 
and scale of the impacts to air traffic control? How much ground did we 
lose when it comes to controller hiring and safety upgrades?
    Answer. The shutdown itself was not a significant driver for FAA to 
change staffing plans, as most FAA program offices review and adjust 
staffing plans on an annual basis, including our two largest mission 
critical programs, air traffic and aviation safety. Both of these 
programs made changes to their staffing plans that were based on 
specific workforce planning factors, such as analysis of current and 
future state requirements, alignment of mission and staffing, and 
identifying workforce gaps in staffing, hiring, training and 
development, and retention. The unprecedented length of the last 
shutdown did create a need for FAA to immediately re-examine the agency 
furlough plans to ensure we took steps to adjust our shutdown plans 
based on lessons learned.
    On an annual basis, the FAA conducts a comprehensive review of all 
agency functions, positions, and staff in place to support those 
functions. The review also aligns functions by their funding and budget 
categories. The purpose of this review is to identify which functions 
and supporting positions are designated as essential for protection of 
life and safety. The FAA uses this information during a funding lapse 
to place employees in a furlough status or non-furlough status. The FAA 
notifies employees who are funded by a lapsed budget category and work 
in positions designated as essential (or excepted), of the requirement 
to report to work during the funding lapse, in accordance with the 
Antideficiency Act and position designations. This practice allows the 
FAA to continue critical operations with adequate staff during the 
funding lapse. In addition, the FAA has a process to recall employees 
from furlough during an extended lapse and when critical safety 
operations require additional resources to maintain operations.
    In the Air Traffic Organization, the lapse in appropriations 
disrupted the hiring and training of new air traffic controllers.

  --Hiring and training enough air traffic controllers is a challenge 
        the FAA faces each year. Controlling air traffic is a 
        difficult, stressful job, and the agency needs to find 
        candidates who can do the job consistently day after day.

  --The FAA also needs to get our new hires trained and ready to fill 
        vacancies at our facilities across the country.

  --The lapse in appropriations added another hurdle to this process. 
        Our recruitment efforts and training of air traffic controllers 
        were put on hold during the shutdown as only safety essential 
        operations were authorized.

  --Despite these challenges, the agency will continue to maintain a 
        controller workforce that can safely manage the national 

    Question. I support my colleague Senator Moran's Aviation Funding 
Stability Act, which would provide pay for air traffic controllers and 
funding for FAA programs during a government shutdown by authorizing 
the FAA to draw from the Airport & Airway Trust Fund. Does the FAA 
leadership support this bill to protect air traffic controllers and 
their families in the event of another shutdown?
    Answer. The Administration has not taken a position on the various 
pending proposals that would authorize the FAA to draw from the Airport 
and Airway Trust Fund during a government shutdown. We look forward to 
working with Congress as it considers an appropriate mechanism to 
protect the traveling public from disruptions that can occur from a 
lapse in appropriations.
    Question. While I recognize the hard work that the FAA is doing to 
resolve the safety challenges with Boeing's 737-MAX, it has now been 
over 4 months since the FAA moved to ground the aircraft. The safety of 
the flying public is and must always be the number one priority of the 
FAA. We cannot allow these planes back in the air unless this safety 
flaw is fixed and the FAA can verify the safety of the aircraft and the 
changes that Boeing is making to it; however, neither Congress nor the 
airline industry has been given any real timeline for when the FAA 
expects to have the MAX fixed, certified, and back in the air. 
Meanwhile, the sustained grounding is impacting the flying public. 
Chicago's hometown airline, United, is currently being forced to cancel 
40-45 flights per day because of the Boeing grounding. Those 
cancellations are expected to increase the longer that the MAX is 
grounded. If still grounded in October, United estimates that it will 
need to cancel 95 flights per day. That translates to less choices and 
higher prices for consumers. Can the FAA provide the public with an 
estimate on when they expect to certify the Boeing MAX safe to fly 
    Answer. Safety is the core of the FAA's mission and our top 
priority. With the support of this Committee, the FAA has worked 
tirelessly to take a proactive, data-driven approach to oversight that 
prioritizes safety above all else. The FAA recognizes the impact that 
the grounding of these aircraft has had on airlines and the flying 
public. However, the FAA will return the 737 MAX to service for U.S. 
carriers and in U.S. airspace only when the FAA's analysis of the facts 
and technical data indicates it is safe to do so.
    Question. Since the grounding, the FAA in coordination with DOT 
Inspector General, a special committee of experts convened by Secretary 
Chao, and the FAA's Technical Advisory Board have been working to both 
investigate what went wrong with the FAA's certification of the MAX and 
to determine what changes to their certification process are needed. 
When is Boeing expected to submit its changes to the FAA and what steps 
will the FAA take to verify that those changes will solve the problem?
    Answer. Boeing has been working to develop the necessary design 
changes and the FAA certification team has been monitoring and 
evaluating their progress. There is no firm date for Boeing to submit 
the final design changes.
    FAA is retaining all approvals on the proposed 737 MAX design 
changes--no aspects will be delegated. As part of an unprecedented 
level of review by foreign authorities, all changes will be validated 
by the other members of the Certification Management Team--the European 
Union Aviation Safety Agency, Transport Canada Civil Aviation, and the 
National Civil Aviation Agency of Brazil.
    In addition, the FAA initiated the multi-agency Technical Advisory 
Board (TAB) review of the MCAS software update and system safety 
assessment in order to determine sufficiency. The TAB consists of a 
team of experts from the U.S. Air Force, NASA, Volpe National 
Transportation Systems Center, and the FAA. The TAB experts have not 
been involved in any aspect of the Boeing 737 MAX certification. The 
TAB has worked to evaluate Boeing and FAA efforts related to the 
software update and its integration into the flight control system, and 
its recommendations will inform FAA's return to service decision.
    Question. Why wasn't appropriate attention given to the MAX's 
certification by FAA management the first time around, and what is the 
FAA planning on doing differently in certifying the MAX's safety this 
    Answer. The certification of the 737 MAX took 5 years, and the FAA 
focused significant resources--over 110,000 hours of FAA time--on this 
certification effort.
    Going forward, the FAA will retain all approvals on proposed design 
changes to the 737 MAX. FAA management will again be involved in the 
approval process and will make the final decision as to whether or not 
the 737 MAX is safe to operate and can be safely returned to service. 
In addition, the FAA has initiated a Technical Advisory Board (TAB) to 
evaluate Boeing and FAA efforts related to the software update and its 
integration into the flight control system. The TAB recommendations 
will inform the FAA's return to service decision.

                          SUBCOMMITTEE RECESS

    Senator Collins. [Whereupon, at 11:37 a.m., Wednesday, July 
31, the hearing was adjourned, and the subcommittee was 
recessed, to reconvene subject to the call of the Chair.]