Washington (CNN) — Staring down an end-of-the-week deadline to pass major Federal Aviation Administration legislation, Congress is preparing to reopen contentious differences.

At stake is whether Congress passes the hefty, over 1,000-page bill guiding aviation policy for the next five years. It includes a plan to fill a shortfall of 3,000 air traffic controllers, prevent planes from colliding on runways and set policies for airline refunds.

The bill was negotiated by a bipartisan group of lawmakers and needs to pass both the Senate and the House before going to the president and becoming law. Since the text was released last week, senators have brought forward their own amendments – some relevant, some highly irrelevant. The FAA reauthorization, as it is known, is likely one of the last opportunities to get major legislation passed this election year.

Here is what’s up for consideration this week:

Raising pilots’ retirement age

One of the most disputed issues in this year’s FAA debate is whether to increase the mandatory retirement age for airline pilots from 65 to 67.

Airline groups said it would relieve the pressure of a pilot shortage that started with a wave of buyouts and early retirements during the pandemic, when airlines slashed payrolls. More retirements are coming, too: Half of current pilots are set to hit mandatory retirement in the next 15 years, according to the Regional Airline Association.

But pilots unions pushed back hard, arguing there is no data to prove the increase is safe and claiming it would inject chaos into the seniority system at airlines. Pilots approaching retirement age frequently fly wide-body jets on international routes, landing in countries where the retirement age is 65. If the US raised its age but other countries did not, these pilots would be ineligible to land overseas – and retraining them for smaller aircraft on domestic routes would take training time away from younger pilots, the unions contend.

The FAA bill passed by the House last year included the provision raising the retirement age, but negotiators dropped it from the compromise legislation. Several senators have proposed amendments adding the provision, and another amendment would direct the FAA to encourage other countries to also raise their retirement age – resolving the seniority issues.

More flights at DCA

At the end of the workweek, lawmakers’ cars line up in DC to hustle them to nearby airports for flights home. The most convenient is Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, a short drive into Virginia. The region’s other two airports – Dulles International and Baltimore/Washington International – are at least a 40-minute drive from downtown DC.

But a decades-old perimeter rule limits the length of flights departing Reagan National to a 1,250-mile radius from DC. That means lawmakers west of Minneapolis, Oklahoma City and Dallas must catch a flight at one of the other two airports. (Over the years, a few exceptions – such as direct flights to Salt Lake City and Seattle – have been added at Reagan National.)

The compromise bill would allow for five additional flights into and out of Reagan National daily – far fewer than some had wanted.

The airport authority operating Reagan National and Dulles International says the main runway at Reagan is the nation’s busiest and operates at full capacity. Lawmakers’ proposals to add additional flights, it says, would increase the congestion. DC-area senators have a proposal to block any additional flights.

Republican Sen. Mike Lee – from Utah, outside the perimeter – drafted a proposal for adding 56 flights, with a limit of eight per hour.

Passenger protections

In April, the Department of Transportation finalized a new rule on airline refunds: They’re due in cash – rather than vouchers – within a few days, and come automatically. That means no requirement to call the airline and complain when your flight is canceled or substantially delayed.

The compromise FAA bill as proposed originally did not go as far as the new DOT rule, which raised the possibility that a future DOT leadership could strip the automatic refund rule. After an outcry – including from an alliance of Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts – the bill’s negotiators returned to the drawing board and added the automatic component into the bill. Under the new language, if a passenger declines an airline’s rebooking request or does not respond to the request, the airline must issue an automatic refund.

There’s also a proposal to change the rules around how flights booked through a travel agency are refunded. Travel agents are concerned the current rules leave small businesses fronting refunds when airlines haven’t reimbursed them.

Protection from drones

The National Football League and Major League Baseball may get something out of the FAA bill, too: protection from drones. The proposal from Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan would give the Department of Homeland Security more authority to detect and take down problem drones. When Peters and his colleagues unveiled the bill last year, the NFL said it would protect football games “from the serious and rising security risks posed by rogue drones.”

It’s becoming a problem for the sports leagues. Earlier this year, for example, a man was charged with illegally flying a drone over a Baltimore Ravens game after officials were forced to stop the action on the field.

Another no-fly list

The infamous no-fly list bars suspected terrorists from commercial planes. Some lawmakers want another list for passengers found to have attacked airline crews or attempted to breach a cockpit. Passengers added to the list after a fine or conviction “shall be prohibited from boarding any commercial aircraft flight.”

When in-flight rage skyrocketed during the pandemic, many airlines put passengers on internal no-fly lists – but federal rules prohibited the airlines sharing names with one another. The major flight attendants union and some airlines said that system made it possible for banned passengers to simply switch to another carrier.

Changes to the travel experience

Americans’ experience at the airport could change, too.

There’s an amendment to add more electric car chargers at airports – and another that would block the FAA from implementing a plan to address climate change.

A privacy proposal that would limit the Transportation Security Administration’s use and sharing of biometric data is drawing warnings from travel groups about longer lines. The groups say the seamless experience of using a passenger’s face to check in, drop a bag, move through security and enter at the boarding gate is becoming popular with passengers, and that passengers have the choice to opt out. But Sen. Jeff Merkley, the Oregon Democrat behind the proposal, says restrictions are necessary to prevent “a full-blown national surveillance state.”

And there are several proposals that would ban airport security and airlines from accepting passengers whose only identification are documents issued by the US government to illegal immigrants and asylum seekers.

Titanium, internet and milk

These proposals have nothing to do with aviation.  But they are lawmakers’ attempts to pass their own priorities before members turn their attention more fully to November’s elections.

The proposals include lifting tariffs on some titanium sponge imports, which proponents say would ease US production of titanium metals. Another proposal would clear the way for local groups to clean up abandoned hard-rock mines. There’s also an amendment that would classify zootechnical animal food substances as additives rather than drugs. An internet-access program that extends a lifeline to rural and low-income Americans could be revitalized. And whole milk could be back on the menu if a proposal to change school lunch rules passes.

Unidentified flying objects

Most of the FAA bill amendments deal with flying objects that depart from and return to Earth.

But the sponsor of one proposal wants to know what else is in the skies.  It requests a report on UFOs.

It is, specifically, “a non-classified report about occurrences in which commercial pilots spot, or otherwise visually witness, unknown objects in flight and address whether unidentified aerial object encounters have ever disrupted, interfered, or interacted with flight instruments.”

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