Today, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) joined with more than 100 general aviation (GA) organizations in a united front of opposition to H.R. 2997, legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that seeks to privatize the nation’s ATC system.
The controversial proposal has been introduced by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-9-PA) as part of a continuing congressional debate over reauthorization of funding and programs for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), before current funding for the agency expires Sept. 30. The committee approved the legislation largely along party lines on June 27.
NBAA has long held significant concerns with the notion of privatizing ATC, which would turn control over the system – a natural monopoly that currently serves the public’s interest, and is overseen by the public’s elected representatives in Congress – to a new entity governed by private interests unaccountable to congressional oversight.
“After a thorough and detailed review of Chairman Shuster’s proposal, H.R. 2997, the AIRR Act of 2017, which would remove our nation’s air traffic control operations from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), we have concluded that these reforms will produce uncertainty and unintended consequences without achieving the desired outcomes,” the groups’ letter reads.
In the letter, NBAA and the other signatories also draw a clear distinction between the need to continue aviation system modernization, and the claim that ATC privatization is a necessary step in that process. “While we enjoy the safest most efficient air traffic control system in the world, we also believe that reforms, short of privatization, can better the FAA’s need to improve its ability to modernize our system,” the letter continues.
The groups further dispute so-called “protections” in the bill that privatization supporters claim resolve concerns over a private entity’s ability to restrict general aviation access to airports and airspace. “We have concluded that any structural and governance reforms that require protections for an important sector of users is fundamentally flawed,” the letter pointedly states.
“This coalition, representing the size, significance and diversity of the general aviation community, is the largest to galvanize around any single policy proposal to date,” noted NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “The group is sending a loud and clear signal of opposition to ATC privatization that echoes the same position held by other groups on the political left and right, elected officials at the federal and local levels, and a majority of American citizens.”
With H.R. 2997 expected to be considered by the full House before the end of the month, NBAA has mobilized the business aviation community to voice opposition to the bill. On June 23, Bolen issued a Call to Action urging association members to use the association’s online Contact Congress resource to oppose the bill that Bolen has termed, “the single greatest threat to the future of general aviation we have faced.”
NBAA’s Contact Congress resource also provides a means for social media users to alert their lawmakers to the industry’s opposition to the bill.
Furthermore, NBAA has introduced a toll-free action line – 855-265-9002 – to connect association members with their elected representatives, with a brief list of suggested talking points for callers. Visit Contact Congress to learn more about these initiatives against H.R. 2997.
While a full vote on H.R.2997 looms in the House, the U.S. Senate last month delivered a resounding “no” to the matter in that chamber’s FAA reauthorization bill, S. 1405, which addresses the need for aviation system modernization without calling for ATC privatization. NBAA issued a statement of support following that bill’s June 22 introduction. Read NBAA’s statement about S.1405 in its entirety.