Washington, D.C. — Senators Ted Budd (R-NC) and Mark Kelly (D-AZ) have introduced the bipartisan Seeing Objects at Altitude Regularly (SOAR) Act.
The bill requires the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to issue new regulations to require that all high-altitude balloons operating 10,000 feet above sea level be equipped with a tracking system that will transmit the balloon’s altitude, identity, and location.
The legislation also requires the FAA to work with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to develop equivalent standards for high-altitude balloons launched elsewhere in the world.
The new bill comes after the federal government’s response to four unknown aerial objects over North America, including one Chinese surveillance balloon, which were shot down by U.S. fighter jets.
Sen. Budd said in a statement:
“The recent shootdown of a Chinese spy balloon that traversed the skies over our country for more than a week highlights the immediate need for the FAA to re-evaluate how we track objects flying over American airspace. Examining more efficient means for tracking the identity and location of aircraft is not only critical to maintaining safety in our skies, but it’s also a matter of national security. I am pleased to join Senator Kelly in this important effort.”
Sen. Kelly said:
“At a time when our adversaries are using hostile surveillance tactics, there is no reason why our country should have to wonder whether an object in our airspace is a threat, weather balloon, or science project. Our common-sense legislation will give our military the tools needed to identify threats more quickly and efficiently, while providing more certainty to good faith operators of high-altitude balloons. I welcome Senator Budd’s partnership on this safety and national security issue.”