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Lankford Pushes to Reauthorize FAA, Supports OKC’s Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center 

CLICK HERE to watch Lankford’s speech on YouTube.

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today spoke on the Senate floor about the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill, which is currently being considered by the Senate.

Oklahoma City is home to the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center (MMAC), which is an essential part of safe and efficient air travel network coordinated by the FAA. MMAC is home to the only FAA Academy that provides the initial training for air traffic controllers. The FAA Academy provides centralized, standardized, and efficient training to about 20,000 students each year. Earlier this year, Lankford sent a letter with the entire Oklahoma congressional delegation standing with their great work and encouraging the FAA to expand it.


Mr. President, this week the Senate began consideration of the FAA reauthorization bill. It’s an incredibly important piece of legislation that this body takes up every few years to be able to evaluate where we are on safety of our national airspace. There’s a lot of aspects that are in it. What some people may not know in this body is how incredibly important this is, not only to our national airspace and our safety, but it’s also something that’s talked about often in my state of Oklahoma. Oklahomans are passionate about our national airspace for many reasons.

One is we obviously love to fly and have a long heritage of flying in our state. But it’s also the unique relationship that FAA has with the state of Oklahoma. There are only two FAA centers outside of Washington, DC. One of those is actually in Oklahoma City, the Mike Moroney Aeronautical Center. I would safely say to everybody that if you’ve been on a flight lately and it took off and landed safely, you can thank the folks in Oklahoma City for that, because Oklahoma City, that operation, the Mike Moroney Aeronautical Center, that center that’s functioned for 70 years, has provided a lot of the vital services for the FAA for all seven of those decades. There were established in 1958. [It] is home to thousands of great federal employees there that serve our nation every single day to keep our airspace safe. But they do it in ways that sometimes people don’t see.

Let me give you an example of that. The center houses a lot of the different components and a lot of back office things for a lot of different agencies. They’re on 1,100 acres of land in Oklahoma City, with 133 buildings. And as you go through the complex, you think there’s a lot going on here. Let me give you just a few examples of those things. The Civil Aerospace Medical Institute is housed in Oklahoma City. The Civil Air Space Medical Institute takes care of the medical certification, the research, education, the occupational health wing for the FAA. They conduct all the research and the studies on the human element of flight there. That’s safety for pilots, flight attendants, passengers, how to be able to handle the pressurization, all those things. They do that in Oklahoma City every single day.

The Mike Maroney Center is also home to the only FAA Academy. They handle the first 60 days or so of the developmental air traffic control training before a student is actually placed in the field. So basically, when you take off and land in either communication with air traffic control anywhere in the country, it’s very likely those folks were initially trained in Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma City Air Traffic Control training has geared up to be able to take on as many people as the nation needs for air traffic control. In fact, this particular bill encourages maximizing as many people as possible, actually getting through air traffic control training and the Academy in Oklahoma City is well prepared to be able to step up to the challenge of that. They have space. They have great trainers that come in from all over the country to be able to do the training there. They’re fully capable and they’ve had a great curriculum that they’ve been able to train folks that have now served our nation every single day. FAA reauthorization bill expands that capacity in Oklahoma City, rightfully so. And they’re fully ready to be able to do it.

They’re also set a new minimum hiring target for air traffic controllers. So the maximum number of individuals can actually go through the Academy. It is very important that we train as many people as possible to be able to make them ready. Advanced air mobility is another element that’s actually there at the Mike Maroney Aeronautical Center. The focus there is the next generation of what’s going to happen in unmanned flight. While a lot of folks talk about that in the future, that research is actually happening on the ground in Oklahoma City every single day.

There are a lot of aspects of this bill that prepares us for the future of aviation and continues to be able to make our airspace the safest airspace in the world. Let’s keep it that way. Let’s continue to be able to learn what we can, and to be able to continue to advance the future of aviation in the United States. So look forward to the debate that will begin officially later on today, and we’ll continue all through next week, or quite frankly, until whenever the Senate is finished in the debate on this bill, because it’s important we actually get the FAA bill done in the days ahead. With that, I yield the floor.