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Monday, January 25th, 2021

Bill targets aviation health emergency preparedness

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Reps. Rick Larsen (D-WA) and Don Beyer (D-VA) recently introduced a measure designed to develop a national aviation preparedness plan regarding future public health emergencies.

The National Aviation Preparedness Plan Act of 2020 is supported by key aviation stakeholders, including the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

“Lessons learned from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic show the urgent need for a national aviation preparedness plan to ensure the safety of aviation crews, employees and passengers,” Larsen, chair of the House Aviation Subcommittee, said. “This bill will bring federal agencies, frontline aviation workers, and other key stakeholders to the table to develop a clear, comprehensive plan of action for future outbreaks.”

Bill provisions, officials said, include requiring the Department of Transportation (DOT), in collaboration with the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security and other relevant federal agencies, to develop a national aviation preparedness plan for communicable disease outbreaks; directing the DOT to consult with the aviation industry, labor unions and other key aviation stakeholders on the development of such a plan; and calling for a Government Accountability Office (GAO) assessment of the plan to determine if it responds to public health recommendations.

“Our legislation would require better future preparedness to prevent the spread of disease via air travel during a pandemic,” said Beyer said. “Watchdogs within the U.S. Government and the United Nations have both identified the necessity of a coordinated national strategy to prevent spread of disease by air travel as a crucial element in national and international pandemic response. Our legislation would require that they do so as soon as possible, with input from agencies across the government, as well as relevant stakeholders in the aviation sector.”