On April 27, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and renews its funding for five years by a vote of 393-13. The bill now heads to the Senate, where it's expected to be considered this month.
The bill includes important updates to the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) to offer protections to people with disabilities and their equipment. Though the ACAA was passed in 1986 to prohibit disability-based discrimination in air travel, damaged assistance devices, lack of adequate seating, and lack of properly trained airport and airline personnel still continue to create barriers to traveling for people with disabilities. In 2016, passengers filed 32,445 disability-related complaints as reported by 184 domestic and foreign air carriers.
The House-passed bill includes several new protections for people with disabilities. It creates a Select Subcommittee for Aviation Consumers with Disabilities to advise the Secretary of Transportation on issues related to the air travel needs of passengers with disabilities, and requires the U.S. Department of Transportation to investigate the possibility of in-cabin wheelchair restraint systems. The bill also requires a review of training provided to airport and airline personal that assist individuals with disabilities.
We have an opportunity to further improve a final FAA reauthorization bill. As the Senate prepares to move forward with its FAA reauthorization bill, please contact your Senators and urge them to support S.1318, the Air Carrier Access Amendments Act of 2017. It is our hope that even more of the disability-related provisions in S.1318, especially those related to better enforcement and increased airplane access, will be added to the Senate bill.