Rep. Cole stresses investment in America’s aviation industry


A week after Oklahoma Congressman Tom Cole took part in House committee approval of funding for FAA operations in Oklahoma and across the country, he wrote about it in his latest column, stressing the importance of aviation to Oklahoma.

“Oklahoma has long been a hub for aerospace and aviation industry development, as well as is the leader in the nation for training air traffic controllers. Oklahomans take pride in contributing to the nation in this way, and this unique position means Congress is charged with fostering this vital sector through funding for research, training and operations to keep the aviation industry strong and safe for our state and the entire country.

Last week, the House passed H.R. 3935, the Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act. This legislation reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and federal aviation programs for five years. In recent years, our aviation system has faced several challenges including increased global competition, shortages in trained professionals and rapid changes in technology. This legislation would reauthorize research, innovation and critical updates to bring our aviation systems and programs into the 21st century and long-term certainty for the many facets of this industry.

This bill is also important to the Fourth District and the state of Oklahoma. In addition to having critical airports in municipalities like Lawton, Norman, Ardmore, and Oklahoma City, central Oklahoma is also home to the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center. The Monroney Center is not only a key administrative, research and safety hub for the FAA, but it is also home to the FAA Academy, the only training center in the country for FAA-certified air traffic controllers. It is no exaggeration to say that our national aviation industry cannot exist without a well-trained and stable air traffic control workforce, and that workforce would not exist without the Monroney Center.

While the FAA reauthorization is critical to extend these programs for five more years, real funding must also be realized to relieve a strained and delayed air traffic control system. Last week, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD), which I serve on as Chairman, passed its fiscal year 2024 funding bill out of the full House Appropriations Committee. While this legislation provides crucial funding for real infrastructure projects across the country, it is also of particular importance to Oklahoma. If signed into law, this legislation prioritizes resources to the FAA to modernize the air traffic control system and train 1,800 new controllers and update and modernize facilities and equipment.

Investments from Congress have allowed Oklahoma’s aviation industry to thrive, and in turn, Oklahoma has provided a well-trained air traffic workforce and needed updates in technology and operations. The FAA reauthorization and full funding of critical aviation programs through appropriations will set up Oklahoma and the United States to continue to be a leader in aviation safety, innovation and reliability.”

Source: Cole release