Without question, 2017 will be remembered as a year that brought many challenges to our shared aviation community. The most significant example of these concerns has been the continuing effort on Capitol Hill to push for privatization of the nation’s air traffic control (ATC) system, and our industry must remain engaged in this fight as we look to the New Year.
Although Congress has yet to vote on legislation to replace congressional ATC oversight with an airline-dominated board, that hasn’t stopped big airlines and their surrogates from continuing their push to wrest control over ATC and assume power to control taxation, access and other policies to their advantage.
It’s clear that privatization would be a big win for the airlines, but a loss for most everyone else. Consumers, and the small communities that rely on general aviation for all manner of services, will likely be left with fewer choices, reduced competition, decreased access and higher costs for flying, as the airlines increasingly run the system for their own benefit.
That’s why businesses, consumer groups, community groups and a host of other voices across the country – including tens of thousands of industry stakeholders, including readers of Twin & Turbiune – have spoken out against the House proposal.
Another fight over access to vital aviation infrastructure will also continue into 2018. On Nov. 13, NBAA filed its final brief before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit challenging the legality of the unprecedented settlement agreement reached earlier this year between the FAA and the city of Santa Monica, CA over the future of Santa Monica Municipal Airport (SMO.)
The filing – submitted in response to the FAA’s and the city’s challenges to NBAA’s initial arguments about the agreement – reasserts NBAA’s position that the agency failed to comply with numerous federal statutory requirements in reaching the controversial January 2017 settlement, and it did not provide the required public comment period or establish a benefit to aviation.
Make no mistake; this fight is far from over. Oral arguments in the case will begin next Spring, with a final ruling anticipated near the end of 2018. Nevertheless, Santa Monica has already started to reduce the length of SMO’s sole runway to 3,500’ in a shortsighted effort to curtail access by larger, predominantly turbine-powered aircraft. NBAA is working to ensure that action is a temporary one.
Whether battling against ATC privatization in the halls of Congress, or asserting the right of GA stakeholders to utilize a vital Southern California airport, NBAA will remain committed to fighting against any effort to hinder our industry’s unrestricted freedom and access throughout our national airspace system. As we look to 2018, I encourage Twin & Turbine readers to also remain engaged on these and other matters posing a significant threat to our industry.