While major airlines are on board with the president’s desire to privatize the Federal Aviation Administration’s air traffic control operations, some in the general aviation industry have concerns.
“We need to do things different,” said Adam White, a pilot and government liaison for the Alaska Airmen Association. “There’s no argument there. I’m just a little concerned that general aviation is going to be boxed out of the decision-making process.”
President Donald Trump wants to speed up modernization by shifting air traffic control away from the FAA into a nonprofit corporation supported by fees.
Under several Republican plans, the board controlling air traffic operations would have seats for the airlines, the pilots’ union and recreational pilots.
Still, people in general aviation say their voices could be drowned out.
“We don’t register any complaints about the current system,” said Mark Baker, the president of the Airplane Owners and Pilots Association, which has 300,000 members, including 3,000 in Alaska.
The reports Baker sees show most airline delays are due to weather and problems rather than traffic control.
Many non-airline aviators, including White, worry the user fees the self-financed corporation will impose will extend to services that enhance safety, Alaska Public Media reported.
Joe Brown, who runs an Ohio-based propeller company, is among the satisfied general aviators who paint a far different picture than the “ancient, broken, antiquated” air traffic control operations Trump spoke of last week.
“When I fly, I find a modern system, a high-functioning system,” he said last month, testifying against privatization at a House hearing
“I can file a flight plan from my smartphone and get my proposed route back before I get to the airport in a text,” he said. “When I take off I have GPS navigation systems on board that allow me to fly point-to-point, all over this country.”
Brown said he’s happy that enhanced technology guides him on precision approaches at hundreds of airports. About 40 of them are in Alaska.
Trump signed a memo and letter outlining his privatization plans Monday. The plan still has substantial opposition in Congress.