Lummis, Senate Western Caucus Colleagues Protect Emergency Aircraft Operations

February 20, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, U.S. Senator Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Chair of the Senate Western Caucus, joined U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) and three of their Senate Western Caucus colleagues in pushing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to amend its certificate of waiver requirements during critical emergencies to ensure restricted category aircraft—which fulfill life and land saving roles—are granted access to restricted areas. The senators sent a letter to the FAA to ensure unnecessary restrictions for aircraft that fight wildfires are lifted ahead of wildfire season. 

 “People across Wyoming and the west cannot wait until a wildfire or other time-sensitive emergencies occur to begin the slow process of obtaining emergency access to airspace to fight wildfires or repair power lines,” said Lummis. “We have a responsibility to cut red tape and properly equip our first responders with the tools they need to save lives, and preemptively securing airspace access ensures they can focus on protecting our communities, not waste valuable time filling out paperwork.” 

“Idahoans cannot wait 45 days for the FAA to grant emergency access to airspace when a wildfire is decimating our state,” said Risch. “Before the 2024 wildfire season starts, the FAA must allow greater flexibility for restricted category aircraft, like those used to fight wildfires and repair power lines, to carry out time sensitive, emergency operations. Failure to do so puts lives, communities, and our forests in jeopardy.”

Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Steve Danies (R-MT) joined Lummis and Risch in sending the letter to the FAA. 

The full letter can be read here.