July 13, 2015
Letters from a host of local business aviation organizations, each bearing a succinct message to elected officials: say “No!” to a privatized air traffic control (ATC) system funded by user fees, were recently sent to numerous legislative offices on Capitol Hill.
The letters came from regional aviation groups from across the country, and were provided to the offices of congressional representatives from Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington.
Those groups are among many industry stakeholders who heeded NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen’s recent Call to Action over proposals under discussion for creating a privatized ATC system funded by user fees.
Among those who responded was Shelly deZevallos, president of Texans for General Aviation, who cited the “huge” economic burden that user fees would impose on the industry. “To have that kind of negative impact, on an economy that needs to keep growing, makes no sense,” she added.
In its letter to members of the Lone Star State’s congressional delegation, Texans for General Aviation also called attention to the negative effects witnessed from similarly privatized ATC systems in several foreign countries. “These entities receive funding through user fees, which in turn require a new bureaucracy of billing agents, collectors and auditors that impose a huge administrative burden on those required to pay the fees,” the letter reads.
Teterboro Users Group (TUG) president Dave Belastock drafted a response letter to New Jersey’s congressional representatives, and distributed the link to NBAA’s “Contact Congress” resource to TUG members so they could “get involved, and most definitely respond” to the threatened provisions.
“We have what most view as the best air traffic control system in the world, funded through a per-gallon tax on fuel purchases and overseen by the Congress and accountable to the people of the United States,” he added. “Converting to a private entity that doesn’t have the same governance, oversight and accountability is a cause for concern.”
In the time since Bolen’s Call to Action was issued June 25, NBAA Regional Programs Director Steve Hadley estimated that he and NBAA’s five other regional representatives were able to reach “over 17,000 individual opinion leaders, concerned constituents and NBAA Members” about these issues.
Although action on FAA by the U.S. House of Representatives was recently postponed, Hadley implored members of the business aviation community to maintain a strong and united voice against user fees and ATC privatization, noting that it resonates with lawmakers.
“Having a strong constituent response to NBAA’s Call to Action opens elected officials’ doors to our NBAA folks in Washington D.C., enabling us to make sure our members voices are heard,” he added.
To learn more about support from regional aviation groups in helping NBAA mobilize the business aviation community, listen to the July 13 edition of NBAA’s Flight Plan podcast.