Five general aviation organizations, including the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), are urging transportation leaders in Congress to strip a controversial proposal to privatize the nation’s air traffic control (ATC) system from a pending Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill.
In a pair of letters this week, the groups also urged that authorization for the FAA, which is scheduled to expire Sept. 30, be extended at least six months, so as not to distract from the important progress being made on the Next Generation ATC modernization program and needed airport projects.
The letters were sent to House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-9-PA) and Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-4-OR); and to Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD) and Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-FL).
The letters were signed by NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen; Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association President Mark Baker; Experimental Aircraft Association CEO and Chairman Jack Pelton; General Aviation Manufacturers Association President and CEO Pete Bunce; Helicopter Association International President Matt Zuccaro and National Air Transportation Association President Marty Hiller.
“There is a lack of consensus in the aviation community for Title II of H.R. 2997, the 21st Century AIRR Act, which seeks to effectively hand over control of our nation’s air traffic system to the airlines and special interests,” the aviation leaders wrote.
They noted that the entire general aviation community, along with small airports, mayors, business leaders and advocacy groups have come out against it – and that the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that H.R. 2997 would add nearly $100 billion to the deficit. They also noted that a recent Government Accountability Office report concluded air traffic modernization is on schedule.
“We believe that progress on [ATC] modernization should continue by implementing targeted solutions to identified challenges and strongly support striking Title II of H.R. 2997, to allow completion of comprehensive, bipartisan, long-term FAA reauthorization,” the letter states. “Removing Title II would ensure consensus and allow for our aviation system to continue to serve the traveling public and the aviation industry.”
The groups concluded by stating: “We urge you to move away from this divisive air traffic control proposal, which is fraught with risks and unintended consequences, including national security concerns, and work towards passing a bipartisan, consensus driven FAA Reauthorization legislation so we can move our country forward.”