Earlier this year, following months of debate, Congress passed and the President signed into law a bill extending funding and programs for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through Sept. 30, 2017.
That measure was passed as Congress continues to debate a full FAA reauthorization bill; while the passage of a complete reauthorization would have been ideal, this extension does provide some good news.
First, the legislation included several general aviation industry priorities: raising the bar on aviation safety, integrating unmanned aircraft into the National Airspace System and accelerating implementation of the NextGen air traffic management system. Equally important, the bill set aside controversial proposals for creating a privatized air traffic control (ATC) system funded by user fees and run by an airline-dominated board of directors.
This outcome says much about our industry’s ability to make its collective voice heard. As readers of Twin & Turbine know, in the course of this FAA reauthorization debate, the general aviation community faced a real threat. If privatization had been implemented, there was a danger that the ATC system would have been recast to cater to the airlines, inhibiting the ability of general aviation to access airports and airspace, thereby diminishing
its flexibility and efficiency. Our ability to meet that challenge was key in shaping the recently passed legislation.
Simply put, it is thanks to active engagement by readers of this magazine, and many other people in the industry, that we have reached this significant milestone.
That said, this milestone illustrates not just how far we’ve come, but how far we have yet to go. The FAA reauthorization debate is far from over, and much work remains to ensure the U.S. has the largest, safest, most efficient and diverse transportation system in the world.
First and foremost, we must remain fit for whenever the fight on ATC privatization reemerges – and, we know it will. That means we need to be vigilant, and ready to mobilize once again. Those supporting privatization proposals will continue to push their agenda on Capitol Hill, and we must continue to be prepared to meet that challenge.
NBAA believes that we can best move forward on the FAA’s NextGen air traffic management program, expanding system capacity and efficiency, by working for a full reauthorization bill that contains targeted solutions to identified challenges, instead of getting into another distracting debate over creating a privatized ATC system funded by user fees.
As we look to the coming months, our ability to continue coming together in this debate will remain as important as ever. NBAA’s work, supported by activism from throughout the GA community, has made all the difference up to this point – as the FAA reauthorization debate moves into its next phase, NBAA will make its voice heard, and I know we can count on you to do so as well.