The organization representing thousands of private pilots across the United States accuses the GOP chairman of the House Transportation Committee of unleashing a “Trojan horse” to remove the nation’s air traffic control system from FAA oversight, placing it under a board heavily controlled by the nation’s airlines.
In a statement on their website, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association calls the proposed legislation, introduced by House Transportation Committee chairman William Shuster of Pennsylvania, “an 11th hour backroom deal with the airlines.”
AOPA complains that the amendment, introduced late Monday, would move air traffic control out of direct FAA oversight, to a 13 member board top-heavy with airline representatives.
“This potentially creates a real safety issue for all of aviation and the general public,” said Jim Coon, AOPA’s Senior Vice President of Government Affairs. “There is no entity other than the FAA with the expertise, knowledge, and experience to run the largest, most complex air traffic system in the world.”
Advocates insist the proposed panel would be advisory-only, and that air traffic control functions would remain under FAA oversight.
But AOPA President Mark Baker issued a call for his members to flood Capitol Hill with calls to their representatives in Congress. And he called for a summit of all air traffic stakeholders to determine the future of the ATC system.
“Rather than backdoor deals,” he said, “let’s pass a long-term funding bill for the FAA and then sit down in the open and put together a plan to advance modernization in a productive way.”
Shuster withdrew a previous proposal to remove air traffic control functions from the FAA after observing it lacked adequate support. AOPA said at the time, members had contacted their representatives more than 200,000 times, asking them to oppose the legislation.