Both houses of the legislative branch of the U.S federal government were at work yesterday on FAA business.  The U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 915, reauthorizing the FAA and the U.S. Senate confirmed Capt. Randy Babbitt as FAA Administrator for a five-year term.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed on a vote of 277-136 HR 915, the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2009.  It now goes to the Senate, where a similar bill died last year.  The details of HR 915 have been debated for several months in committee and on the House floor, with the version that was passed yesterday including several amendments. These include: a provision that would make it easier for FedEx employees to unionize by shifting jurisdiction of unionization rules to the National Labor Relations act; authorization of a congressional study of pilot training; and increased inspection of aircraft repair stations abroad.  Click here for a copy of the as-passed version of HR 915.

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On the other side of the Capitol, the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Capt. Randy Babbitt as Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration for a five-year term.  Administrator Babbitt previously served as President and CEO for U.S. Air Lines Pilots Association, the world’s largest professional organization of airline pilots. The FAA has been run by interim administrators since Marion Blakey’s term expired in September, 2007.  The Bush Administration attempted to have Acting Administrator Bobby Sturgell confirmed last year, but his appointment was blocked by the two Senators from New Jersey, which effectively ended his bid for a term as Administrator.  Administrator Babbitt was seen as a "compromise" candidate who was more acceptable than another former ALPA president, Duane Woerth. Woerth was favored by the AFL-CIO.  Administrator Babbitt’s confirmation was lauded by both union and aviation groups.

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