June 15, 2015
Contact: Steve Hedges
FREDERICK, MD – The chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee today announced that he would seek to separate air traffic control (ATC) functions from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as part of the ongoing FAA reauthorization process.
In his June 15 remarks before the Aero Club of Washington, Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pennsylvania), proposed creating a not-for-profit, federally chartered corporation to operate and modernize ATC. That corporation, he said, would be governed by a board of system users and would be funded through a user fee system separate from the congressional appropriations cycle.
“We appreciate Chairman Shuster’s efforts to bring needed reforms to the current FAA structure and we look forward to continuing to work with him and the committee. Although we have yet to see details of the proposed legislation, AOPA believes the current method of collecting revenues through a tax on aviation fuel is not broken,” said AOPA Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Jim Coon, reiterating AOPA’s longstanding opposition to user fees for general aviation. “Moreover, we believe any air traffic system must preserve GA access to airports and airspace on a first-come, first-served basis, like we enjoy today.”
Shuster suggested that legislation to create a separate ATC organization as part of a larger FAA reauthorization proposal could be considered on the House floor in July. Before any reauthorization legislation can become law, it must also be approved by the Senate, which has not yet indicated whether it would support creating a separate ATC organization or announced a timeline for considering reauthorization legislation. Current FAA programs expire Sept. 30.
Many in the aviation community agree that the current system is less effective and efficient than it could be, but GA groups and some airlines are concerned about the potential impacts of creating a separate user-fee funded organization to manage air traffic.
“There is no doubt that the FAA has spent billions over the years on efforts to modernize our air traffic control system, and we recognize that change is needed to ensure continued U.S. leadership in aviation,” said Coon. “But we must avoid any unintended consequences for general aviation. We’ve seen issues in other countries where general aviation has been put aside and we can’t allow that to happen in this country.”
Since 1939, AOPA has protected the freedom to fly for thousands of pilots, aircraft owners and aviation enthusiasts. AOPA is the world’s largest aviation member association, with representatives based in Frederick, Md., Washington, D.C., Wichita, Kans., and seven regions across the United States. AOPA provides member services that range from advocacy at the federal, state, and local levels to legal services, flight planning products, safety programs and award-winning media. To learn more, visit www.aopa.org.
- AOPA -