The US Senate Appropriations Committee has approved a $17.7 billion funding bill for the FAA’s fiscal 2020, roughly $580 million more than the budget request and $240 million more than the FY2019 enacted level.

In the report language attached to the bill, appropriators wrote that recent crashes of two Boeing 737 MAX aircraft “have hurt the credibility” of the FAA, adding the committee “is aware of concerns with the FAA’s organization designation authorization (ODA) program, including with delegation of the MCAS [maneuvering characteristics augmentation system] to the manufacturer, as well as concerns with the flight training.”

“Aviation safety is a priority for us, particularly in light of the two crashes of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft,” Appropriations Committee chair Susan Collins (R-Maine) said during the bill’s Sept. 19 mark-up. “This legislation will require FAA to address all recommendations from the ongoing investigations and audits, to improve safety culture for all manufacturers and to assess the agency’s workforce and training needs.”

The $1.36 billion recommended for aviation safety is $31.8 million above the administration’s budget request. The appropriators directed FAA to use the additional funding to implement recommendations from the various regulatory probes into the 737 MAX and the FAA’s aircraft certification process

The committee also said it was “aware of concerns with the differences between the oversight regime of the FAA and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)” with regard to the use of delegation authority. To that end, the committee directed the Government Accountability Office to examine and review the differences in the use of delegation authority between the two regulators, and to provide recommendations to FAA on any changes it should make to improve safety outcomes.

The committee also instructed FAA to submit a report to appropriators in both chambers of Congress outlining its response to recommendations from the various probes into ODA prior to taking any action to reorganize or modify the program.

The House passed a bill in June that would also send roughly $17.7 billion to FAA for FY2020. The White House requested $17.1 billion to fund the agency in March, just several days before the crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302, the second accident involving the 737 MAX in five months.

Ben Goldstein,