The recent passage of U.S. Senate legislation to reauthorize funding and programs for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), without language to privatize the nation’s air traffic control (ATC) system and fund it with new user fees, is a positive development for the business aviation community.
However, we must remain vigilant on the ongoing debate over FAA reauthorization, given that the discussion continues to include the promotion of controversial ATC-privatization measures.
The Senate version of the reauthorization bill, H.R.636, passed with overwhelming bipartisan support following two years of hearings and debate. It includes language the general aviation community supports, including calls for streamlined certification processes for aviation technology, accelerated implementation of the NextGen air traffic management system and third-class medical reform for pilots of small general aviation aircraft.
Those welcome advances are also included in the Senate bill’s House counterpart, H.R.4441, which was introduced in early February. However, that bill also includes a risky provision for the creation of a privatized ATC system, funded through new user fees, and overseen by an airline-dominated board of directors.
Advocates for ATC privatization continue to support the concept. For example, in recent weeks, NBAA has represented the business aviation community in aviation-policy forums, held both in and outside Washington, DC, in which some participants have pressed their case for privatization.
At those events and elsewhere, I have restated NBAA’s position that the notion of turning ATC over to a private organization has raised a host of legitimate concerns about whether the public’s airspace should be turned over to special interests. As just one illustrative concern, a fundamental question continues to be raised with regard to who’s going to make sure the public airspace is run for the benefit of the entire public, including citizens and businesses in communities across America
Clearly, it remains critically important that industry stakeholders continue to make their views known in opposition to ATC privatization funded by user fees. NBAA’s online Contact Congress resource allows concerned pilots and other industry representatives, including readers of Twin & Turbine, to reach out to elected officials, and ask them to support the continued advancement of the Senate FAA reauthorization bill.
To utilize Contact Congress from a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer, simply visit nbaa.org/action, or go to nbaa.org/twitter to Contact Congress through social media, to advise lawmakers on Capitol Hill about the potentially disastrous effects that user fees and a privatized air traffic system could have on our nation’s GA community.
Without question, the U.S. must remain the world leader in aviation five, 10 and 25 years from now. Making your voice heard in this process is one way to ensure that our community continues to benefit from a safe and efficient national ATC network, without going down the risky path of turning over the air traffic system to a combination of self-interested parties, at a very high cost.