House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), told FOX News on July 24 that the House would not consider a vote on air traffic control privatization until after the chamber’s recess, which starts July 28 and ends September 5. One day later, however, Politico reported Shuster was again hoping for a vote this week.
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed the 21st Century AIRR Act (H.R. 2997), which would provide funding for the FAA and hand air traffic control to a non-profit board dominated by the airlines. Supporters of ATC privatization on Capitol Hill have been working to gain support for the bill, but thus far the legislation has not been scheduled for a vote on the floor of the House.
AOPA President and CEO Mark Baker, along with General Aviation Manufacturers Association President Pete Bunce and National Business Aviation Association President Ed Bolen, left EAA AirVenture July 25 to hold a meeting with the General Aviation Caucus on Capitol Hill to discuss what ATC privatization would do to aviation in America.
Baker told members of Congress and their staffs that the United States has the best ATC system in the world and it works for all users. Baker also said the industry is united against privatization, and 130 groups have signed a letter opposing the change.
Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.), an outspoken critic of ATC privatization, said comparing American and Canadian air traffic is like “comparing an apple to a horseshoe, you can’t compare the two.”
Rep. Ralph Abraham, M.D. (R-La.), who is a pilot and opposed to privatization, said the U.S. air traffic control system works well and the focus should be on modernization.
AOPA is asking members, pilots, and supporters to contact their representatives in the House by calling 855/383-7330. Privatization opponents also can email their representatives.
EAA AirVenture attendees can visit the AOPA Campus to sign a petition and contact their elected officials in Washington.
Meanwhile the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee has approved FAA reauthorization legislation that does not include ATC privatization. AOPA supports the Senate bill.