EAA Chairman Jack Pelton is adamant that turning over control of ATC to a non-profit largely controlled by the airlines is a “bad idea.”
In an editorial written for The Hill, Pelton (pictured) said that the plan put forth by House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) is not privatization in the true sense of the word at all. Such privatization, he said would mean “applying for-profit principles and benefits to a market opportunity with the goal of enhancing choice, efficiency and freedom. This proposal does none of that — it simply creates a corporate monopoly largely under the control of commercial aviation interests.”
He said that the arguments that the plan would make air travel less expensive, faster and safer don’t stand up to close scrutiny.
Pelton writes that, when looking at examples from other countries, privatizing the air traffic control system has led to a sharp drop in General Aviation activity. Canada saw sharp fee increases to cover fixed costs when the economy slowed, and that led to even less revenue when GA pilots cut their flying hours. The U.K. turned to a taxpayer bailout when flying fell sharply after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Pelton says he is concerned about reduced access for GA pilots to airports under a privatized system.
Pelton said that Congress should do its job properly and consistently funding the FAA so that equal access to the air traffic system for all users is maintained. He quotes Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), a member of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee for Transportation and Housing which recently rejected the privatization proposal during a markup hearing, as saying the plane “appears to be a solution in search of a problem.”