The NOTAM Improvement Act, a bill that establishes a task force to make recommendations on improving Notices to Air Missions, is headed to President Joe Biden’s desk for signature.
The bipartisan legislation, originally passed by the House in January, was reaffirmed by voice vote approval on Monday following an amended Senate version with additional provisions approved earlier this month.
A version of the NOTAM Improvement Act was originally introduced in 2021 but was stopped short of the Senate. It wasn’t until a disastrous mishap of the system on January 11 that Congress again took action.
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January’s NOTAM outage—a result of an error made by a contractor servicing the system—led to thousands of flight disruptions and the first nationwide ground stop since 9/11. The incident further spotlighted the FAA’s antiquated system, putting pressure on the agency to make improvements.
Rep. Pete Stauber (R-Minn.) and co-sponsor Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.) introduced the NOTAM Improvement Act of 2023 on January 25. Meanwhile, Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), and Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) introduced the legislation in the Senate, where additional amendments were made.
Included in the additional provisions is a clause calling on the FAA to complete its modernization of the NOTAM system and create a backup by September 30, 2024. Additionally, the legislation requires the FAA to brief Congress on a plan to enhance the capability of the system to deliver information that is machine-readable, filterable, and in the format used by the International Civil Aviation Organization.
The bill has garnered widespread support from the aviation industry.
“This vital legislation will ensure the NOTAM system operates with the most up-to-date technology available to make it more resilient and create a safer National Airspace System for all operators,” said Ed Bolen, president and CEO of the National Business Aviation Association.
Said Klobuchar: “Travelers in the United States deserve safe and dependable air travel service, not nationwide ground stops caused by system failures like we saw earlier this year. That’s why as co-chair of the Senate Travel and Tourism Caucus, I’m focused on strengthening our air travel infrastructure. By upgrading and modernizing the FAA’s NOTAM system, this new law will improve aviation safety and prevent system outages from derailing travel.”
Moran also praised the bill.
“The FAA has a responsibility to make certain air travel in our country is as safe and efficient as possible,” he said. “Passing this legislation is an important step to help meet the demands of 21st century travel and prevent a similar failure in the future.”
The NOTAM Improvement Act now goes to Biden to either sign or veto the bill.
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