(WASHINGTON, D.C.) –A bill by Representative Steve Knight (CA-25) to allow the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to continue and expand its research, engineering, and development programs cleared its first legislative hurdle Thursday afternoon.

 Earlier this week, Rep. Knight introduced H.R. 4489, the FAA Leadership In Groundbreaking High-Tech Research and Development Act (FLIGHT R&D Act). The bill would authorize funding for the FAA to study and utilize improvements in aerospace technology with the goal of advancing aviation safety, security, and economic competitiveness. On Thursday it was considered by the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, of which Rep. Knight is a member.

“Aerospace plays a vital role in our national defense and our economy- especially in the Antelope, Santa Clarita, and Simi Valleys,” said Rep. Knight. “I am glad that my colleagues are joining me in strengthening America’s aviation program.”

H.R. 4489 is budget-neutral and is consistent with the 2015 National Aviation Research Plan, a performance-based plan developed by the FAA to ensure that research and development (R&D) investments are well managed and deliver results. Additionally, the bill directs the FAA to move forward on advances in cybersecurity for future aircraft as well as integrating Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) into the national airspace system. Finally, the bill calls for FAA to plan for emerging fields such as single-piloted aircraft, air traffic surveillance over oceans, and advanced fuels. Rep. Knight says these initiatives are crucial to the future of American flight and will have positive economic impacts on the many companies in Southern California that are involved in aerospace manufacturing.

“When the aerospace community grows, our local economy thrives,” continued Rep. Knight. “Aviation research and development means more jobs and more opportunities for our small businesses to flourish.”

H.R. 4489 passed the Committee Science, Space, and Technology on Thursday afternoon. It now awaits consideration in the House Committee on Rules.