This week in transportation: Safety focus turns back to the FAA

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The hearing will mark NTSB chairwoman Hersman’s first appearance on Capitol Hill since she was floated as a potential replacement for Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who has announced he is retiring this year.

The meeting will be chaired by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.).

The West Virginia lawmaker said it was important for Congress to keep tabs on the FAA’s progress implementing the reauthorization bill they passed last year.

“The U.S. maintains the safest aviation system in the world. It is because the FAA, aircraft manufacturers, and airline employees hold safety as their number one priority,” Rockefeller said in a statement announcing the meeting. “The FAA is in the process of implementing a number of new aggressive safety initiatives and it is appropriate to review the agency’s progress.  We must remain diligent in our oversight of the aviation industry to continue operating the safest system in the world.”

The hearing comes as the FAA prepares to initiate furloughs and air traffic control tower closures because of the sequestration budget cuts.

The FAA is required to $600 million from its 2013 budget as part of the effort to force a reduction in federa spending.