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AOPA Germany warns US pilots about so-called ATC privatizationAOPA Germany warns US pilots about so-called ATC privatization

During an AOPA Live interview, Michael Erb, vice president of the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations in Europe and managing director of AOPA Germany, spoke about the downsides of so-called air traffic control privatization, and warned the United States not to follow in Germany’s path.

Since switching to a “privatized” ATC model in 1993, general aviation in Germany has not fared well. With complicated flight plans, increased costs, and taking a backseat to the needs and priorities of the airlines, the situation feels all too familiar to H.R. 2997, which would remove ATC from the FAA and hand it to a board dominated by the airlines.

Erb said GA in Europe is treated like a second-class citizen: “We are given a lower priority over the needs of the airlines.” 

Erb said the change does not necessarily bring efficiency. “There’s no direct relation between a privatized and an efficient ATM [Air Traffic Management] system,” said Erb. He alluded to France, a country that has not yet “privatized” but is still better off than its European competitors.

In what he called the “benchmark worldwide,” Erb couldn’t fathom why the United States would consider so-called privatization. As someone who has flown in both countries, Erb praised the United States for its user friendliness, convenience, and equality for all pilots using the system saying, “we all envy you.”

Erb also pointed out that Germany imposes fees on GA pilots, and it can take eight years to produce new instrument procedures at a German airport compared to just a few months in the United States.

AOPA is asking members, pilots, and supporters to continue to contact their representatives in the House by calling 855/383-7330 or visiting AOPA’s call-to-action page on H.R. 2997.

AOPA Communications staff

Topics: Advocacy, ATC

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