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Sen. Cruz: FAA Reauthorization Boosts Innovation for Next Generation in Aerospace

HOUSTON, Texas – U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and U.S. Representative Brian Babin (R-Texas) today visited Venus Aerospace’s Houston headquarters, joining Sassie Duggleby, the company’s CEO and co-founder. Following a tour of Venus Aerospace, a startup company focused on engineering the future of high-speed flight, Sen. Cruz discussed how the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2024, which was recently signed into law, will accelerate aviation innovation. Provisions in the law championed by Sen. Cruz will make possible test corridors for hypersonic and supersonic aircraft and position Texas as a leading contender for a corridor. The law, which Sen. Cruz authored as the ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, received overwhelming bipartisan support in both chambers and makes historic investments in the safety, efficiency, and innovation of America’s aviation system.  

About the importance of fostering innovation for the aviation industry in Texas, Sen. Cruz said, “But the challenges y'all face pushing technology forward, testing engines that go much, much faster than commercial jets … what y'all are doing is amazing cutting edge technology and it matters for our military defense enormously. But it also matters for commercial applications to be able to fly across the world, to fly across the Atlantic, across the Pacific in one to two hours, is a breathtaking step forward. And y'all are working to make that a reality. And the challenge you face is there are limited, limited test corridors to test those engines. So this bill very specifically includes within it directing the FAA to open up those corridors so you can test hypersonic and supersonic engines.”

About the visit, Venus Aerospace CEO, Sassie Duggleby said,We couldn’t be more pleased with the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2024.  The new law ensures that our government prepares for hypersonic aviation as Venus Aerospace and others in America work hard on this technology.  Venus thanks Senator Cruz, Representative Babin, Texas Representative Paul, the Greater Bay Houston Economic Partnership, Greater Houston, and many others for making time today to celebrate this important milestone with the Venus Aerospace team.

“The law, and the hypersonic policy within it, are also a testament to the teamwork of Democrats and Republicans, the House and the Senate, leaders in each body, and hardworking staff.  It was also a uniquely Texas team effort. We received both Texas Republican and Texas Democratic support in this process.  We are grateful to each and every one for the support of American hypersonic policy.”

In addition, the FAA reauthorization bill delivered a number of notable improvements that will benefit travelers in the Greater Houston area including:

  • Establishes a Runway Safety Council.
  • Accelerates deployments of tower simulator systems.
  • Requires the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to install Terminal Flight Data Manager (TFDM), an air traffic control technology that will help address the congestion on the airport surface due to the increase in commercial air traffic nationwide, improve ATC controller awareness and efficiency, and eliminate paper flight strips, at the top 89 airports within four years. Texas airports set to receive the TFDM technology include both IAH and HOU.
  • Provides a historic $4 billion per year in funding for airport infrastructure projects that will boost capacity and safety at airports across Texas and the nation.
  • Directs the FAA to hire the maximum number of air traffic controllers. Terminal Radar Approach Control Facilities (TRACON) for the Houston area has been understaffed in recent years.
  • Reforms aimed at better integrating commercial space activities into the national airspace system to assist launch providers in navigating complicated airspace, a boost for Texas’ thriving commercial space industry.
  • Reforms to FAA’s State Block Grant and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) administrative funding programs that will greatly benefit the Texas Department of Transportation.
  • Streamlines approvals to allow for more drone operations for offshore oil and gas facilities in international waters.
  • Improving safety for ramp workers around plane engines.??
  • Requires airlines seat families together.
  • Requires the FAA to complete the Beyond the Visual Line of Site rulemaking, which will expand drone delivery and other drone operations throughout Texas.?
  • Creates a pilot program for entities that train veterans for civil aviation careers.??