Photo from NBAAThe U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation has unanimously approved the amendments proposed by the NBAA and other industry members, meant to improve the Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) system.
The amendments proposed for Senate Bill 66, the NOTAM Improvement Act of 2023, have called on the FAA to complete the implementation of an overhauled and improved Federal NOTAM System (FNS). This is believed by many in the industry to be a critical aviation safety tool for anyone using the National Airspace System (NAS).RELATED STORIES:Congress requests FAA task force to modernize NOTAMTime for a new NOTAM? The first nationwide ground stop since 9/11 shows room for improvement
A NOTAM is a tool that provides real-time data about airports and the airspace to ensure a safe flight. The system went down in January and caused the first nationwide grounding since 9/11, revealing just how outdated and flawed the critical system is. After the outage, Congress called for the formation of the FAA Task Force on NOTAM Improvement to review existing methods for presenting NOTAMs and flight operation information to pilots. Acting FAA administrator Billy Nolen had to testify at a Senate Committee hearing, facing scrutiny over the outage and the fact that a modernization program to update the NOTAM system has been in place for over a decade with no end date in sight.
An amendment approved on Wednesday called for an augmented deadline of Sept. 30, 2024 for the FAA to implement a new FNS. This also called for an accompanying backup in place to help mitigate the impact of a primary system outage. Another amendment the NBAA brought forward was to acknowledge the work done by an industry coalition to overhaul NOTAMs and prioritize safety-centric information. The group is led by NBAA Senior Director of Air Traffic Services and Infrastructure Heidi Williams, comprised of representatives from general aviation, commercial airlines, ATC and regulatory stakeholders. This group submitted its recommendations to the FAA in 2020.
The FAA has already begun the modernization process, including the enforcement of some of the coalition's recommendations for the Aeronautical Information Systems Office within the FAA Air Traffic Organization as a central location for operators to address any questions about aeronautical information.
NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen has thanked the Senate committee for approving the amendments, commending Senate Bill 66 sponsor Senator Amy Klobuchar and co-sponsors Senators Jerry Moran and Shelley Moore Caputo.
"This legislation is an important opportunity to address and remedy current NOTAM limitations through careful application of the latest technologies," Bolen said. "We must ensure that NOTAMs are not only readily available to pilots, but that the system is also resilient and relevant, with prioritization of the most critical safety information focused on operational requirements."
Senate Bill 66 is the Senate version of House Resolution 346, introduced by Representative Pete Stauber and Representative Mark DeSaulnier which passed by the House in January. The amended bill will move next to the Senate floor for consideration.
"We further thank Reps. Stauber and DeSaulnier, House Aviation Subcommittee Chair Rep. Garret Graves (R-6-LA) and member Rep. Rick Larsen (D-2-WA) for their leadership on this matter, and look forward to working with them to move an amended bill through the House," Bolen said.