The leadership of the Senate Committee on Appropriations sent a strongly worded letter to their colleagues who are currently developing an FAA Reauthorization bill suggesting they will oppose any efforts to privatize air traffic control or diminish congressional oversight of the FAA.
The letter dated Jan. 27 noted that the United States is a world leader in aviation and aviation safety, and warned that proposals to create a separate air traffic organization, whether as a governmental agency or a private entity, are flawed because they would break apart the FAA and reduce Congress’ ability to oversee air safety.
The letter, which was sent amid the debate over FAA reauthorization, was signed by Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Ranking Member Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.).
In it, they said that the American public would not be well-served by putting any part of the FAA’s funding on “autopilot” and noted that the annual appropriations process is an opportunity for Congress to ensure program performance, that the FAA keeps a sustained focus on aviation safety, and that the system serves all users from airlines to general aviation.
Currently, the FAA is operating under a six-month funding extension, which is set to expire on March 31. A House FAA reauthorization proposal may be unveiled in February and is already getting close attention from the aviation industry. That proposal is expected to propose removing the air traffic organization from the FAA and creating a not-for-profit entity to take its place.