There is currently an effort in Congress to privatize our air traffic control system; thankfully we have Congressman Peter DeFazio fighting for us.
It’s no secret that the Federal Aviation Administration faces its share of challenges.
But Congressman DeFazio knows the answer does not include handing over this public infrastructure to a private corporation that would raise prices for consumers and be dominated by representatives of the commercial airlines.
If we are actually serious about fixing the real problems facing the FAA today, then Congress can and should pass targeted reforms.
This is exactly what DeFazio’s proposal (an alternative to the White House/House Republican plan for an “independent” air traffic control board) does.
By calling for a series of specific personnel and procurement reforms and removing the Airport and Airway Trust Fund from the constraints of the congressional appropriations process, DeFazio’s plan would implement targeted reforms designed to stop holding the FAA back.
The air traffic control system isn’t broken — indeed, it is one of the safest in the world.
Since 2015, commercial airlines have experienced 36 major outages while the national air traffic control system has maintained an unblemished safety record.
That hasn’t stopped the airline industry — which stands to gain the most from privatization — from repeatedly bringing forth this proposal.
Over the course of three decades, a plan to privatize air traffic control operations has repeatedly failed, even as recently as last year, when the privatization debate killed an otherwise-bipartisan FAA re-authorization bill.
Why has it failed so often? Because those of us opposed to privatization understand this massive shift in policy could jeopardize national security, hurt small airports and the people they serve, and eliminate Congressional oversight.
Not only would this privatization plan jeopardize funding for aviation safety, it also would hurt airline passengers in Oregon and across the U.S.
The bill coming before Congress would give the nonprofit corporation the ability to tax American consumers to pay for the air traffic control system, decide flight routes, and disregard aircraft noise issues, all the while jeopardizing critical access to the aviation system in smaller cities and rural communities.
There is bipartisan agreement that Congress should address needed Federal Aviation Administration reforms, but a risky privatization scheme that puts the airline industry in charge of America’s aviation system and leaves the American public unprotected is certainly not the solution.
In true Oregon fashion, Congressman DeFazio will stand up to the special interests pushing this dangerous legislation when it hits the House floor.
Thank you, Congressman DeFazio, for your relentless commitment to safety and doing the right thing.
Val Hoyle is a former state legislator and former chairperson of the Export Council of Oregon.