General-aviation advocacy groups have united in their efforts to oppose the privatization of the nation’s air traffic control system, and on Tuesday in Washington, the Senate Appropriations subcommittee took their side. The subcommittee approved a spending bill that would allot $16.7 billion to the FAA, and rejected the proposal to spin off ATC functions to a non-profit corporation. A House subcommittee had voted to support privatization, which is also supported by the White House. The two bills will be debated in Congress, which is not expected to happen until September. During those debates, all options will be in play, until a final vote is taken and a unified bill is sent to the White House.
Both the House and Senate are scheduled to take a five-week recess starting next week, and will need to move quickly when they return to complete the bill before FAA funding runs out at the end of September. This week at EAA AirVenture, several general-aviation leaders held a rally on the issues Monday morning. EAA President Jack Pelton, AOPA President Mark Baker, GAMA President Pete Bunce, and NBAA President Ed Bolen addressed the crowd. Baker, Bunce, and Bolen planned to leave for Washington today to lobby. Volunteers in red “Modernize NOT Privatize” shirts are working the crowds at AirVenture, encouraging visitors to call their representatives in Washington right from the AirVenture grounds.
“The [Trump] administration is hell-bent on making [privatization] happen, and we have to be as equally unified to make sure that we all encourage our elected officials to vote ‘no,’” Pelton told the crowd.