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105th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 1st Session                                                    105-371
_______________________________________________________________________


 
  ADDRESSING THE NEEDS OF FAMILIES OF PASSENGERS INVOLVED IN AIRCRAFT 
                ACCIDENTS INVOLVING FOREIGN AIR CARRIERS
_______________________________________________________________________


October 31, 1997.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

 Mr. Shuster, from the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 2476]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

  The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, to whom 
was referred the bill (H.R. 2476) to amend title 49, United 
States Code, to require the National Transportation Safety 
Board and individual foreign air carriers to address the needs 
of families of passengers involved in aircraft accidents 
involving foreign air carriers, having considered the same, 
report favorably thereon with an amendment and recommend that 
the bill as amended do pass.
  The amendment is as follows:
  Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert in lieu 
thereof the following:

SECTION 1. PLANS TO ADDRESS NEEDS OF FAMILIES OF PASSENGERS INVOLVED IN 
                    FOREIGN AIR CARRIER ACCIDENTS.

  (a) In General.--Chapter 413 of title 49, United States Code, is 
amended by adding at the end the following:

``Sec. 41313. Plans to address needs of families of passengers involved 
                    in foreign air carrier accidents

  ``(a) Definitions.--In this section, the following definitions apply:
          ``(1) Aircraft accident.--The term `aircraft accident' means 
        any aviation disaster, regardless of its cause or suspected 
        cause, that occurs within the United States; and
          ``(2) Passenger.--The term `passenger' includes an employee 
        of a foreign air carrier or air carrier aboard an aircraft.
  ``(b) Submission of Plans.--A foreign air carrier providing foreign 
air transportation under this chapter shall transmit to the Secretary 
of Transportation and the Chairman of the National Transportation 
Safety Board a plan for addressing the needs of the families of 
passengers involved in an aircraft accident that involves an aircraft 
under the control of the foreign air carrier and results in a 
significant loss of life.
  ``(c) Contents of Plans.--To the extent permitted by foreign law 
which was in effect on the date of the enactment of this section, a 
plan submitted by a foreign air carrier under subsection (b) shall 
include the following:
          ``(1) Telephone number.--A plan for publicizing a reliable, 
        toll-free telephone number and staff to take calls to such 
        number from families of passengers involved in an aircraft 
        accident that involves an aircraft under the control of the 
        foreign air carrier and results in a significant loss of life.
          ``(2) Notification of families.--A process for notifying, in 
        person to the extent practicable, the families of passengers 
        involved in an aircraft accident that involves an aircraft 
        under the control of the foreign air carrier and results in a 
        significant loss of life before providing any public notice of 
        the names of such passengers. Such notice shall be provided by 
        using the services of--
                  ``(A) the organization designated for the accident 
                under section 1136(a)(2); or
                  ``(B) other suitably trained individuals.
          ``(3) Notice provided as soon as possible.--An assurance that 
        the notice required by paragraph (2) shall be provided as soon 
        as practicable after the foreign air carrier has verified the 
        identity of a passenger on the foreign aircraft, whether or not 
        the names of all of the passengers have been verified.
          ``(4) List of passengers.--An assurance that the foreign air 
        carrier shall provide, immediately upon request, and update a 
        list (based on the best available information at the time of 
        the request) of the names of the passengers aboard the aircraft 
        (whether or not such names have been verified), to--
                  ``(A) the director of family support services 
                designated for the accident under section 1136(a)(1); 
                and
                  ``(B) the organization designated for the accident 
                under section 1136(a)(2).
          ``(5) Consultation regarding disposition of remains and 
        effects.--An assurance that the family of each passenger will 
        be consulted about the disposition of any remains and personal 
        effects of the passenger that are within the control of the 
        foreign air carrier.
          ``(6) Return of possessions.--An assurance that, if requested 
        by the family of a passenger, any possession (regardless of its 
        condition) of that passenger that is within the control of the 
        foreign air carrier will be returned to the family unless the 
        possession is needed for the accident investigation or a 
        criminal investigation.
          ``(7) Unclaimed possessions retained.--An assurance that any 
        unclaimed possession of a passenger within the control of the 
        foreign air carrier will be retained by the foreign air carrier 
        for not less than 18 months after the date of the accident.
          ``(8) Monuments.--An assurance that the family of each 
        passenger will be consulted about construction by the foreign 
        air carrier of any monument to the passengers built in the 
        United States, including any inscription on the monument.
          ``(9) Equal treatment of passengers.--An assurance that the 
        treatment of the families of nonrevenue passengers will be the 
        same as the treatment of the families of revenue passengers.
          ``(10) Service and assistance to families of passengers.--An 
        assurance that the foreign air carrier will work with any 
        organization designated under section 1136(a)(2) on an ongoing 
        basis to ensure that families of passengers receive an 
        appropriate level of services and assistance following an 
        accident.
          ``(11) Compensation to service organizations.--An assurance 
        that the foreign air carrier will provide reasonable 
        compensation to any organization designated under section 
        1136(a)(2) for services and assistance provided by the 
        organization.
          ``(12) Travel and care expenses.--An assurance that the 
        foreign air carrier will assist the family of any passenger in 
        traveling to the location of the accident and provide for the 
        physical care of the family while the family is staying at such 
        location.
          ``(13) Resources for plan.--An assurance that the foreign air 
        carrier will commit sufficient resources to carry out the plan.
          ``(14) Substitute measures.--If a foreign air carrier does 
        not wish to comply with paragraphs (10), (11), or (12), a 
        description of proposed adequate substitute measures for the 
        requirements of each paragraph with which the foreign air 
        carrier does not wish to comply.
  ``(d) Permit and Exemption Requirement.--The Secretary shall not 
approve an application for a permit under section 41302 unless the 
applicant has included as part of the application or request for 
exemption a plan that meets the requirements of subsection (c).
  ``(e) Limitation on Liability.--A foreign air carrier shall not be 
liable for damages in any action brought in a Federal or State court 
arising out of the performance of the foreign air carrier in preparing 
or providing a passenger list pursuant to a plan submitted by the 
foreign air carrier under subsection (c), unless the liability was 
caused by conduct of the foreign air carrier which was grossly 
negligent or which constituted intentional misconduct.''.
  (b) Conforming Amendment.--The table of sections for such chapter is 
amended by adding at the end the following:

``41313. Plans to address needs of families of passengers involved in 
foreign air carrier accidents.''.

  (c) Effective Date.--The amendments made by this section shall take 
effect on the 180th day following the date of the enactment of this 
Act.

                                Summary

    Last year, after the ValuJet and TWA crashes, the Committee 
approved (H. Rept. 104-793), and, on September 18, 1996, the 
House passed 401 to 4, the Aviation Disaster Family Assistance 
Act (H.R. 3923). With only minor changes, this bill was enacted 
as Title VII of the Federal Aviation Reauthorization Act of 
1996 (P.L. 104-264, 110 Stat. 3264).
    In sum, this legislation, at 49 U.S.C. 1136 and 41113, 
requires the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and 
individual airlines to take actions to address the needs of 
families of passengers involved in aircraft accidents in which 
there is a major loss of life. The law requires airlines to 
submit plans to DOT and NTSB on how it will address the needs 
of the families in the event of an aviation disaster involving 
one of its aircraft.
    Since the passage of this law, there have been three more 
accidents--a United Express accident in Illinois, a Comair 
crash in Michigan, and a Korean Airlines crash in Guam.
    With the help of the NTSB, the families of the two U.S. 
airline accidents were contacted to learn of their experiences 
under the new law. The limited response received so far 
indicates that the legislation is working well. For example, 
the parents of the Comair flight attendant wrote that ``the 
NTSB, in our opinion, was extremely informative, kind and 
considerate in their dealings with our family. The Aviation 
Disaster Family Assistance Act that was signed into law in 1996 
was instrumental in making sure that the family was informed.''
    Also, the daughter of a victim of the United Express 
accident wrote that ``if there is anything I can do to show my 
support of this law or how it has affected my life, I would be 
more than happy to do so. I feel that this Act should have been 
passed a long time ago in order for the family member to 
effectively cope with the tragedy. I personally thank you, the 
Congress, and the President for passing this Act before my 
father passed away in an aviation accident. Thank you from the 
bottom of my heart.''
    However, one of the key features of this Act, the 
requirement to submit aviation disaster assistance plans, 
applies only to U.S. airlines. It does not apply to foreign 
airlines even if they fly to the United States.
    The August 6, 1997 crash of Korean Airlines flight 801 in 
Guam, which resulted in the loss of 228 lives, has demonstrated 
that the omission of foreign airlines from the coverage of this 
legislation was a significant shortcoming and resulted in 
problems for the families affected.
    Both the Department of Transportation and the Family 
Assistance Task Force created by section 704 of the Federal 
Aviation Reauthorization Act of 1996 have recommended that this 
omission be corrected.
    To correct this omission, on September 15, 1997, 
Congressmen Underwood, Duncan, and Lipinski introduced H.R. 
2476. This bill would essentially impose the same family 
assistance requirements on foreign airlines that now apply to 
U.S. airlines. It would only apply with respect to aircraft 
accidents that occur within the United States.
    The family assistance requirements that would apply include 
the filing of a plan for publicizing a toll-free telephone 
number, a process for notifying families, the provision of the 
passenger list to the NTSB, consultation with family members 
about the disposition of remains and personal effects, the 
return of passenger possessions and the handling of unclaimed 
possessions, and the provision of travel and care expenses to 
the families. The bill would take effect 6 months after 
enactment.

                       Section-by-Section Summary

    Section 1 amends Chapter 413 of 49 U.S.C. by adding a new 
section 41313 that requires foreign air carriers providing 
foreign air transportation to file a plan to address the needs 
of the families of passengers involved in an accident involving 
an aircraft operated by that airline. The section sets forth 
the contents of the plan which are essentially the same as the 
plans that must be submitted by U.S. airlines. The section also 
provides foreign airlines with relief from liability for a good 
faith attempt to supply an accurate passenger list following an 
accident. The plans required by this section would have to be 
submitted within 6 months after enactment.

                    Hearings and Legislative History

    The Subcommittee on Aviation held hearings on the issue of 
family assistance on June 19, 1996 and September 5, 1996. H.R. 
2476 was introduced on September 15, 1997.
    On October 23, 1997, the Subcommittee on Aviation reported 
the bill, by unanimous voice vote, to the Committee on 
Transportation and Infrastructure. On October 29, 1997, the 
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure ordered the bill 
reported, with an amendment, by voice vote with a quorum 
present. There were no recorded votes taken during Committee 
consideration of H.R. 2476.

            Committee Oversight Findings and Recommendations

    With respect to the requirements of clause 2(l)(3)(A) of 
rule XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the 
Committee's oversight findings and recommendations are 
reflected in this report.

                Applicability to the Legislative Branch

    The Committee finds that the legislation does not relate to 
the terms and conditions of employment or access to public 
services or accommodations within the meaning of section 
102(b)(3) of the Congressional Accountability Act (Public Law 
104-1).

                       Federal Mandates Statement

    The Committee adopts as its own the estimate of Federal 
mandates prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office pursuant to section 423 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform 
Act (Public Law 104-4).

                   Constitutional Authority Statement

    Pursuant to clause (2)(l)(4) of rule XI of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, committee reports on a bill or joint 
resolution of a public character shall include a statement 
citing the specific powers granted to the Congress in the 
Constitution to enact the measure. The Committee on 
Transportation and Infrastructure finds that Congress has the 
authority to enact this measure pursuant to its powers granted 
under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution.

                        Costs of the Legislation

    Clause 7 of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives does not apply where a cost estimate and 
comparison prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office under section 403 of the Congressional Budget Act of 
1974 has been timely submitted prior to the filing of the 
report and is included in the report. Such a cost estimate is 
included in this report.

                     Compliance With House Rule XI

    1. With respect to the requirement of clause 2(l)(3)(B) of 
rule XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives, and 
section 308(a) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the 
Committee references the report of the Congressional Budget 
Office included below.
    2. With respect to the requirement of clause 2(l)(3)(D) of 
rule XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the 
Committee has received no report of oversight findings and 
recommendations from the Committee on Government Reform and 
Oversight on the subject of H.R. 2476.
    3. With respect to the requirement of clause 2(l)(3)(C) of 
rule XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives and 
section 403 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the 
Committee has received the following cost estimate for H.R. 
2476 from the Director of the Congressional Budget Office.

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                  Washington, DC, October 30, 1997.
Hon. Bud Shuster,
Chairman, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 2476, a bill to 
amend title 49, United States Code, to require the National 
Transportation Safety Board and individual foreign air carriers 
to address the needs of families of passengers involved in 
aircraft accidents involving foreign air carriers.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contacts are Clare 
Doherty (for federal costs), and Jean Wooster (for the impact 
on the private sector).
            Sincerely,
                                              James L. Blum
                                   (For June E. O'Neill, Director).
    Enclosure.

               congressional budget office cost estimate

H.R. 2476--A bill to amend title 49, United States Code, to require the 
        National Transportation Safety Board and individual foreign air 
        carriers to address the needs of families of passengers 
        involved in aircraft accidents involving foreign air carriers

    CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 2476 would not have a 
significant impact on the federal budget. Because the bill 
would not affect direct spending or receipts, pay-as-you-go 
procedures would not apply. H.R. 2476 contains no 
intergovernmental mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates 
Reform Act of 1995 (UMRA) and would not affect the budgets of 
state, local, or tribal governments. The bill would impose a 
private-sector mandate on foreign air carriers operating in the 
United States. CBO estimates, however, that the costs of 
complying with the mandate would not exceed the threshold 
established in UMRA.
    Public Law 104-264 requires domestic air carriers to submit 
plans to the Secretary of Transportation and the National 
Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) providing for family support 
services in the event of a plane crash. H.R. 2476 would extend 
those same planning requirements to foreign air carriers 
operating in the United States. Carriers that do not submit a 
plan to the Secretary of Transportation could be denied 
permission to operate in this country.
    CBO estimates that enacting this bill would result in no 
significant costs to the federal government because the 
Department of Transportation and the NTSB have already 
designated a trained staff to review the plans of domestic air 
carriers and the additional costs associated with reviewing the 
plans of foreign air carriers would be minimal.
    H.R. 2476 would impose a federal private-sector mandate on 
foreign air carriers that use the United States as a point of 
embarkation, destination, or stopover. The bill would require 
those foreign carriers to submit and comply with a plan that 
addresses the needs of the families of passengers involved in 
an aircraft accident within the United States resulting in a 
significant loss of life. Foreign air carriers would have to 
submit the plans to the Secretary of Transportation and the 
Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. The 
mandate would become effective six months after enactment of 
the bill.
    CBO estimates that the net cost of complying with the 
mandate would be well below the annual threshold for private-
sector mandates specified in UMRA ($100 million, adjusted for 
inflation). According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 
fewer than 200 foreign air carriers have permits to provide air 
service to the United States. Many large foreign air carriers, 
including those that are partners with U.S. air carriers, 
currently have plans in place that are consistent with the 
requirements outlined in H.R. 2476. Other foreign air carriers 
contract out for the necessary assistance in the event of an 
aircraft accident. Those foreign air carriers that do not have 
accident plans may use subscriber services or base their plans 
on model plans that are available. Netted against mandated 
costs would be savings that foreign air carriers might realize 
by a provision that would limit the liability of a foreign air 
carrier arising from its performance in preparing or providing 
a passenger list pursuant to the requirements of this bill.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contacts are Clare 
Doherty (for federal costs), and Jean Wooster (for the impact 
on the private sector). This estimate was approved by Robert A. 
Sunshine, Deputy Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

         Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

In compliance with clause 3 of rule XIII of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by the 
bill, as reported, are shown as follows (new matter is printed 
in italic and existing law in which no change is proposed is 
shown in roman):

                      TITLE 49, UNITED STATES CODE

          * * * * * * *

                    SUBTITLE VII--AVIATION PROGRAMS

          * * * * * * *

                    PART A--AIR COMMERCE AND SAFETY

          * * * * * * *

                    SUBPART II--ECONOMIC REGULATION

          * * * * * * *

                CHAPTER 413--FOREIGN AIR TRANSPORTATION

Sec.
41301.  Requirement for a permit.
     * * * * * * *
41313.  Plans to address needs of families of passengers involved in 
          foreign air carrier accidents.
     * * * * * * *

Sec. 41313. Plans to address needs of families of passengers involved 
                    in foreign air carrier accidents

  (a) Definitions.--In this section, the following definitions 
apply:
          (1) Aircraft accident.--The term ``aircraft 
        accident'' means any aviation disaster, regardless of 
        its cause or suspected cause, that occurs within the 
        United States; and
          (2) Passenger.--The term ``passenger'' includes an 
        employee of a foreign air carrier or air carrier aboard 
        an aircraft.
  (b) Submission of Plans.--A foreign air carrier providing 
foreign air transportation under this chapter shall transmit to 
the Secretary of Transportation and the Chairman of the 
National Transportation Safety Board a plan for addressing the 
needs of the families of passengers involved in an aircraft 
accident that involves an aircraft under the control of the 
foreign air carrier and results in a significant loss of life.
  (c) Contents of Plans.--To the extent permitted by foreign 
law which was in effect on the date of the enactment of this 
section, a plan submitted by a foreign air carrier under 
subsection (b) shall include the following:
          (1) Telephone number.--A plan for publicizing a 
        reliable, toll-free telephone number and staff to take 
        calls to such number from families of passengers 
        involved in an aircraft accident that involves an 
        aircraft under the control of the foreign air carrier 
        and results in a significant loss of life.
          (2) Notification of families.--A process for 
        notifying, in person to the extent practicable, the 
        families of passengers involved in an aircraft accident 
        that involves an aircraft under the control of the 
        foreign air carrier and results in a significant loss 
        of life before providing any public notice of the names 
        of such passengers. Such notice shall be provided by 
        using the services of--
                  (A) the organization designated for the 
                accident under section 1136(a)(2); or
                  (B) other suitably trained individuals.
          (3) Notice provided as soon as possible.--An 
        assurance that the notice required by paragraph (2) 
        shall be provided as soon as practicable after the 
        foreign air carrier has verified the identity of a 
        passenger on the foreign aircraft, whether or not the 
        names of all of the passengers have been verified.
          (4) List of passengers.--An assurance that the 
        foreign air carrier shall provide, immediately upon 
        request, and update a list (based on the best available 
        information at the time of the request) of the names of 
        the passengers aboard the aircraft (whether or not such 
        names have been verified), to--
                  (A) the director of family support services 
                designated for the accident under section 
                1136(a)(1); and
                  (B) the organization designated for the 
                accident under section 1136(a)(2).
          (5) Consultation regarding disposition of remains and 
        effects.--An assurance that the family of each 
        passenger will be consulted about the disposition of 
        any remains and personal effects of the passenger that 
        are within the control of the foreign air carrier.
          (6) Return of possessions.--An assurance that, if 
        requested by the family of a passenger, any possession 
        (regardless of its condition) of that passenger that is 
        within the control of the foreign air carrier will be 
        returned to the family unless the possession is needed 
        for the accident investigation or a criminal 
        investigation.
          (7) Unclaimed possessions retained.--An assurance 
        that any unclaimed possession of a passenger within the 
        control of the foreign air carrier will be retained by 
        the foreign air carrier for not less than 18 months 
        after the date of the accident.
          (8) Monuments.--An assurance that the family of each 
        passenger will be consulted about construction by the 
        foreign air carrier of any monument to the passengers 
        built in the United States, including any inscription 
        on the monument.
          (9) Equal treatment of passengers.--An assurance that 
        the treatment of the families of nonrevenue passengers 
        will be the same as the treatment of the families of 
        revenue passengers.
          (10) Service and assistance to families of 
        passengers.--An assurance that the foreign air carrier 
        will work with any organization designated under 
        section 1136(a)(2) on an ongoing basis to ensure that 
        families of passengers receive an appropriate level of 
        services and assistance following an accident.
          (11) Compensation to service organizations.--An 
        assurance that the foreign air carrier will provide 
        reasonable compensation to any organization designated 
        under section 1136(a)(2) for services and assistance 
        provided by the organization.
          (12) Travel and care expenses.--An assurance that the 
        foreign air carrier will assist the family of any 
        passenger in traveling to the location of the accident 
        and provide for the physical care of the family while 
        the family is staying at such location.
          (13) Resources for plan.--An assurance that the 
        foreign air carrier will commit sufficient resources to 
        carry out the plan.
          (14) Substitute measures.--If a foreign air carrier 
        does not wish to comply with paragraphs (10), (11), or 
        (12), a description of proposed adequate substitute 
        measures for the requirements of each paragraph with 
        which the foreign air carrier does not wish to comply.
  (d) Permit and Exemption Requirement.--The Secretary shall 
not approve an application for a permit under section 41302 
unless the applicant has included as part of the application or 
request for exemption a plan that meets the requirements of 
subsection (c).
  (e) Limitation on Liability.--A foreign air carrier shall not 
be liable for damages in any action brought in a Federal or 
State court arising out of the performance of the foreign air 
carrier in preparing or providing a passenger list pursuant to 
a plan submitted by the foreign air carrier under subsection 
(c), unless the liability was caused by conduct of the foreign 
air carrier which was grossly negligent or which constituted 
intentional misconduct.
          * * * * * * *