What happens when Congress passes a smart-bungee bill?
A bill that would let the Federal Aviation Administration deploy smart bungees for passenger transportation has become the latest casualty in a bitter fight between congressional leaders over how much taxpayer money should be used to pay for the technology.
The legislation, called the Smart Transportation Innovation Act of 2017, was introduced in March by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee.
The bill passed both chambers and has bipartisan support in the House.
The technology would be able to automatically detect when a passenger is in an emergency and send a notification to a mobile app.
It would also be able monitor the condition of the aircraft to prevent a crash.
“Smart technology, whether it’s for emergency response or disaster relief, is a critical piece of the piloting equation,” Nelson said.
“If we can make sure the pilots know that there’s an emergency, we can save lives.”
The pilot-monitoring technology, known as smart bunggees, are being touted by several companies and are currently being used in the US.
But the Federal Communications Commission and Transportation Security Administration have both warned that the technology is not safe enough to use on planes.
The FAA is proposing a pilot-tracking device to be deployed on passenger planes for passengers in certain scenarios, but Nelson says that is not enough.
The bill would allow for the FAA to use $10 billion from the pilot-billings of the current budget for the pilot monitoring device.
The legislation also includes an additional $3 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help cover the costs of deploying the device on commercial airlines.
The pilot monitoring technology is being touted as a solution to a number of safety issues including a pilot’s inability to communicate with other pilots.
In a study by the Federal Railroad Administration, the safety of pilot-baggage communication was found to be 99.4 percent higher when the pilot was not able to communicate, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
The National Association of Airline Pilots, a trade group, also has said that the pilot monitors will provide valuable information to airlines, but the safety implications of the technology are being debated.
“The pilot tracking system will be an invaluable tool in improving safety for our pilots and passengers,” the group said in a statement to The Hill.
The NTSB has previously criticized the FAA for not adequately disclosing the safety benefits of pilot monitoring, and has also expressed concerns about the lack of pilot privacy protections.