Bismarck – Mandan Municipal Airport is just one of several in our state that works with a majority of small private planes and general aviators.
Some North Dakota pilots say if the House bill passes that looks to privatize air traffic control, it would be bad for business and shift more cost to general aviators.
This year in the U.S. more than 85,000 planes will speed across the sky.
But some North Dakota aviators say new legislation isn’t looking out for all of them.
“The House Bill 2997 that’s been introduced wants to privatize air traffic control and essentially give it to the airlines,” Marc Taylor, North Dakota pilot says.
The bill looks to split air traffic control from the Federal Aviation Administration and give it to a private non-profit corporation.
“We’re going to take a public interest entity and make it a monopoly,” Taylor says.
The bill creates a 13 person board that would take over air traffic control and decide fees for aviators.
But the majority of the seats on the board would go to commercial airlines.
Supporters of the bill say it will make flying more efficient and save money due to delays.
But general aviators say it leaves smaller airports voiceless.
“We have 89 airports in North Dakota and those 89 airports are vital to our rural lifestyle here,” Jon Simmers, North Dakota Aviation Council says.
And some North Dakota pilots fear they could see higher fees in the future.
“It’s taking a public entity and making a monopoly with poor oversight and it’s going to be controlled by the airlines with very limited input from general aviation or airline consumers,” Taylor says.
Which Taylor says could keep more private pilots grounded.
“You’ll fly less if it costs more; you’ll fly less,” Taylor says.
Taylor says two-thirds of flights per day are general aviators and they shouldn’t be overlooked when deciding the future of U.S aviation.
The Initial House bill has yet to be approved by the full House.
Though an alternative bill that does not include privatizing the ATC is up for consideration in the Senate.
The North Dakota Aviation Council has spoken out against the house bill.
Though the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission has not taken an official stance.