AOPA has learned that this Thursday, President Clinton is expected to sign an executive order creating a performance-based organization (PBO) to manage the nation's air traffic control system. This order is yet another prelude to user fees. Called the "President's Challenge," the order would create an "Air Navigation Services Organization" (ANSO) that would, among other things, "formulate and recommend to the administrator any management, fiscal, or legislative changes necessary for the organization to achieve its performance goals." That language is the indirect way of once again asking Congress for user fees to fund air traffic control, rather than the existing system of aviation excise taxes. The supporting documentation once again stresses the need for both air traffic and airport landing fees. PBO performance standards could put pressure on controllers to compromise safety margins to meet performance targets as they balance safety against the costs to the airline industry. Thus, ATC labor organizations have already signaled their intention to fight the order.
It is also expected that on Thursday the administration will fulfill the legislative requirements of AIR-21 by naming a chief operating officer for air traffic as well as five members of the legislatively mandated air traffic services subcommittee of the FAA Management Advisory Council.
AOPA will continue to monitor these developments. Watch the home page for updates.
December 6, 2000