Automatic External Defibrillators Issue Brief__________

Author: Joel Bacon, (703) 575-2478


What is at Issue

Representatives Bill Lipinski (D-Ill.) and Jimmy Duncan (R-Tenn.) in late September 2000 introduced legislation – H.R. 5323 – that would have required the FAA to finalize a rule requiring automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) at all airports with more than 100,000 annual enplanements and to publish guidelines for the placement of AEDs at airports. Congress failed to act on this measure before adjourning in December 2000.  Although Lipinski and others have expressed an interest in introducing similar legislation, no bills have been introduced since that time.     


The legislation was first introduced in response to a June 6, 2000, decision by the FAA that no regulation should be proposed to require AEDs at airports. In its decision, the FAA noted: "The majority of units of state and local government that operate certificate airports, having scheduled air carrier service with 100,000 or more annual enplanements, have already taken the necessary steps to provide for the medical capability to address cardiac events at their individual facilities. In addition, all available information indicates that local acquisition and availability of AED’s in public places is increasing."


AAAE/ACI-NA agrees with the FAA decision on this issue and believes the legislation is unnecessary. In an August 4, 2000, letter to both Lipinski and Duncan, AAAE President Chip Barclay did, however, express an interest in working to build on the excellent record of airports in this regard.


Why is it Important to Airports?

Given the continued interest from the public, the national press and Congress in placing automated electronic defibrillators in public places, pressure is certain to build for airports without AEDs to install them as quickly as possible. As local government entities concerned with public service and safety, airports will undoubtedly move in that direction without the need for federal mandates.

Despite the lack of action on the Duncan/Lipinski legislation in 2000, Congress has moved forward with separate legislation directing the secretary of Health and Human Services to recommend how AEDs could be placed in federal buildings. Although these measures do not directly affect airports, their passage could provide momentum for legislation similar to that introduced by Duncan and Lipinski in 2000.


Related Information and Links


June 6 FAA Decision on AEDs at Airports:


Text of Duncan/Lipinski Bill – H.R. 5323:


Airport Alert with Rep. Lipinski’s Press Statement and Letter of Response from Chip Barclay:


Abstracts of New England Journal of Medicine Studies on AEDs in Casinos and on Airlines:




Washington Post Article on AEDs: