September 17, 2017 – Helicopter Association International has joined forces with five other general aviation organizations forming a unified front to get the very controversial proposal to privatize the nation’s air traffic control system stricken from the upcoming Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Bill. And these six organizations are not alone in this fight. A vast majority of the general aviation community, along with many small airports, mayors, business leaders and other advocacy groups have voiced their opinion as well, and with good reason. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that H.R. 2997, dubbed “the 21st Century AIRR Act,” will add nearly one hundred billion dollars to the national deficit. That office also noted that a recent Government Accountability Office report concluded that Air Traffic Control modernization is on schedule.
In a letter drafted to Congress, the group of aviation organizations stated that their belief on modernization of Air Traffic Control should be done by implementing targeted solutions that identify challenges and allowing the completion of a comprehensive, bipartisan, and more long-term FAA reauthorization. This approach the conglomerate of industry groups believes would allow harmony inside the aviation system between the traveling public and the airline industry. As it stands now, currently the only real group in favor of Title II of H.R. 2997 is the airline industry, which makes perfect sense financially speaking.
“The only groups to seemingly support any part of the ATC privatization proposal are the airlines,” says Matt Zuccaro, President and CEO of HAI, “That makes sense, since the commercial airlines are the only aviation-related businesses that will benefit from this plan.”
The letter drafted to Congress also included some very alarming numbers that stress the importance of striking this legislation down. There are roughly 500 cities in the United States that have scheduled airline service, but well over 5000 small towns with airports providing access to general aviation. The access to airports and the nation’s airspace creates jobs, generates economic activity, and helps make America’s aviation system work for all Americans the letter went on to state. To put the importance of general aviation into context, you must remember that we are talking about a million jobs across the industry, an industry that does over 200 billion dollars in economic activity each year.
The aviation organizations represented in the drafted letter to Congress include: HAI president and CEO Matthew Zuccaro, National Business Aviation Association 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, and National Air Transportation Association President Marty Hiller.