Oct. 20, 2017
NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen continued speaking out against efforts to privatize the nation’s ATC system, with an Oct. 19 appearance on The Charlie Brennan show on KMOX 1120 AM in St. Louis, MO. Bolen was joined by David Grizzle, a former airline executive and CEO of Dazzle Partners, LLC, who supports privatization efforts.
Bolen opened by noting that a House bill contains a measure for so-called privatization, which should not be mistaken for aviation-system modernization.
“Our ATC system is a monopoly and will always be a monopoly,” Bolen said. “What is being proposed is taking our public airspace, this natural monopoly, and giving it over 13 unelected, unaccountable people and vesting in them sweeping authority in taxing and investment.”
ATC modernization is proceeding, Bolen added. “As the GAO [Government Accountability Office] has said, our modernization project over the past several years has been on time,” he said. “It’s been on budget and some of the programs, like DataCom, which will allow you to use text rather than voice, are actually two years ahead of schedule.”
He also pointed out that three non-partisan groups – the Congressional Research Service, Congressional Budget Office and GAO – have raised a host of significant questions about the House legislation. “When you have all three addressing these major problems with the legislation before Congress, you have to walk away very concerned,” Bolen added.
He went on to note that beyond the government watchdog groups, an informed and growing chorus of voices have spoken out about the bill. For example, he said, famed pilots, including Capt. “Sully” Sullenberger and Jim Lovell are opposed, as well as groups on both sides of the political divide, mayors across the country and most of the general public.
Bolen concluded by pointing out that the private board created by the legislation to oversee the new system, would be dominated by the airlines and their interests. “There is a seat for commercial airlines, cargo airlines, regional airlines, airline pilots, airports with commercial airline service,” he said. “I think it’s going to be dominated by the airlines.”
Bolen’s interview on the KMOX show, broadcast over a 50,000-watt frequency, follows dozens of local and nationally syndicated interviews he has given to radio stations across the country, to point out the flaws with the House proposal.