After nearly two years of failed attempts in Congress, Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) is once again trying to garner votes in order to pass H.R. 2997, legislation that would remove air traffic control operations from the FAA and hand it to a board controlled by airline special interests. But nearly 250 general aviation organizations, state and local aviation officials, labor unions, management associations, consumer groups, and airports across the nation have a different opinion of the controversial legislation.
In a letter sent to House and Senate leaders on Feb. 26, AOPA and a chorus of groups voiced their willingness to support a bipartisan infrastructure package that does not include ATC “privatization.” The groups also asserted that it shouldn't be included in any other legislation. According to a CNBC poll, the groups' messaging aligns with the majority of Americans who oppose removing ATC from the FAA.
Handing over our ATC system to the airlines and their interests will do nothing to improve safety or customer service, nor will it reduce air fares. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Statistics, airline scheduling and maintenance issues along with weather-related events cause 80 percent of the delays in the system. Despite this data and the fact that the airlines have only equipped less than 30 percent of the commercial fleet to use today’s new air traffic technologies, they continue to push for control of the system.
Rural communities have expressed concerns about how the private board, essentially controlled by the airlines, would deploy modern technologies favoring large hub airports as opposed to small airports in rural America who serve as the gateway to many businesses and are, in many cases, not served by the airlines. Today, general aviation contributes more than $219 billion in total economic output and 1.1 million jobs, mainly in small and rural communities across the country.
AOPA is asking its members to contact their elected officials in the House of Representatives to oppose this contentious issue.
“We would like to see a long-term FAA reauthorization bill that focuses on modernization not privatization. We have provided solutions to help do this, and we must move away from this divisive debate so we can ensure that we maintain the largest, safest, and most complex system in the world. AOPA stands with hundreds of other aviation organizations and groups across the political spectrum in opposition to effectively giving away control of our skies to the airlines,” said AOPA President and CEO Mark Baker.
Visit AOPA’s advocacy alert page to learn more and contact your member of Congress. It’s important to contact your member of Congress now, even if you have done so in the past in order to reinforce your opposition to the legislation.