Tester Supports Legislation to Help Montana Tourism Take Off

Senator Votes to Reauthorize the FAA, Increase Travel and Strengthen National Security

(U.S. Senate) – Days before the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is set to expire, Senator Jon Tester voted for legislation that strengthens Montana’s economy and increases airport security.

“Travelers who land in Montana to experience the wonders of Big Sky Country provide a huge boost to our state’s economy,” said Tester. “This bipartisan bill will help tourism take off, strengthen our national security, and support rural communities across our state.”

“The Great Falls Airport Authority is very pleased that Congress has passed Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) reauthorization. The American airport system is unrivaled in the world for its capacity, safety and service. The largest single source of airport infrastructure funding is FAA’s Aviation Trust Fund. These funds are provided by airport users and they are vital to maintaining the Great Falls International Airport and our country’s other 400+ airports. The Airport Authority would like to thank Senator Tester for his efforts to extend FAA funding through fiscal year 2017. The extension provides certainty that funds are available to meet the aviation system’s needs for another year,” said John Faulkner, Director of the Great Falls International Airport.

This bill reauthorizes the FAA through September 30, 2017 and also:

  • Funds the Airport Improvement Program which has invested over $42 million in Montana in 2015. 
  • Reauthorizes the Essential Air Service Program which supports flights from Billings to Sidney, Glasgow, Wolf Point, Glendive, and Havre and from Butte and West Yellowstone to Salt Lake City. 
  • Reauthorizes the Small Community Air Service Development Program which recently awarded grants to Missoula and Billings to help provide a new direct flight to Dallas. 
  • Establishes a working group to recommend ways to improve small community air service. 
  • Prohibits unmanned aircraft users from interfering with emergency response activities, including wildfire suppression.
  • Doubles the number of specially trained law enforcement teams patrolling airports across the nation.
  • Tightens employee vetting standards for aviation workers who have access to secure areas of airports.


The FAA is set to expire on July 15, 2016. This bill now heads to the President’s desk for signature.