Eight leading California aviation groups this week joined with others across the U.S. to oppose Rep. Bill Shuster’s controversial H.R. 2997, legislation many believe will hand control of the nation’s ATC system to a board of directors essentially controlled by the major U.S. airlines.
A letter opposing the bill jointly addressed to the entire California Congressional delegation was signed by the Association of California Airports, Aviation Group Limited (including California Flyer, Cessna Flyer Association, Piper Flyer Association), California Pilots Association, Long Beach Airport Association, Los Angeles Area Helicopter Operators Association, Northern California Business Aviation Association, Professional Helicopter Pilots Association, San Carlos Airport Association, Southern California Aviation Association, and the Van Nuys Airport Association.
The letter said in part (https://www.aviationacrossamerica.org/wp-content/uploads/CA_State_Letter.pdf) that some of the best pilots and the best people in America have come together to ask that this bill be sent straight to the trash heap. A few of the people the group cites that oppose H.R. 2997 include Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell, Captain Sully Sullenberger and former commanders of both the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds demonstration teams.
In testimony on the floor of the House Tuesday, Shuster said that contrary to some opinions, H.R. 2997 will include provisions for Congress and the FAA to have oversight of ATC. A segment of Shuster’s testimony published in yesterday’s Washington Examiner said, “… critics represented [by] a few Washington special interests who represent business jets and were spreading misinformation and scare tactics about the bill to keep the status quo.” He nevertheless said the language of the bill will be adjusted to make its impact clearer.
Written before Shuster’s Tuesday remarks, the California group cited a number of non-partisan governmental bodies that previously detailed the true costs behind the bill. “The Congressional Research Service said H.R. 2997 was ‘likely unconstitutional.’ The Congressional Budget Office said it would raise the deficit by $100 billion. Finally, the Government Accountability Office said privatization would interfere with ATC programs that have delivered $2.7 billion in benefits to all users of the system and are on budget.”
In addition to opposition by Flyer’s Rights, the National Consumer League, and In the Public Interest, the California group said in a news release, “The American Conservative Union Foundation has called on Chairman Shuster to remove his bill from consideration because it does not meet recognized conservative principles. Americans have also raised concerns with the proposal for Tax Reform, Citizens for Individual Freedom, and the Institute for Liberty. These organizations don’t want another Amtrak or Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that are largely unaccountable to Congress.”