The U.S. Comptroller General would be required to investigate the capacity of airlines to prepare for and respond to extreme weather events and natural disasters under bipartisan legislation introduced on March 14 by U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).
The Airline Operational Resiliency Act of 2023, S. 787, would ensure that Congress receives information about airlines’ operational investments, staffing levels and safety policies, mitigation strategies, and other resiliency planning, as well as the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) role in overseeing air traffic operations during extreme weather, according to the text of the bill.
“After a major winter storm caused thousands of flight cancellations over the holidays, it’s important that we have the necessary information on how air carriers prepare for extreme weather and how the FAA works with them through these storms,” Sen. Capito said. “The Airline Operational Resiliency Act will help accomplish this goal and contribute to a more efficient aviation sector.”
S. 787 is sponsored by U.S. Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) and three original cosponsors, including Sen. Capito and U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE), who all serve on the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, which is considering the bill.
The measure would require the Comptroller General to study and assess the operational preparedness of air carriers for preparing for changing weather and other events related to changing conditions and natural hazards, including flooding, extreme heat, changes in precipitation, storms — including winter storms, coastal storms, tropical storms, and hurricanes — and fire conditions.
As part of the study, the Comptroller General also would be required to assess how the FAA oversees air carriers’ operational resilience to storms, natural disasters, and changing conditions, and steps the federal government and air carriers might take to improve their operational resilience to such conditions, according to the bill’s text.
Additionally, the Comptroller General would be required to brief the appropriate committees of Congress on the study and provide recommendations for legislation and administrative action as deemed appropriate.