planes parked on a GA field

April 14, 2017

With the specter of ATC privatization looming once again as part of the new administration’s budget proposal, regional business aviation groups around the country aren’t wasting any time voicing their opposition to the plan.

“Regional groups nationwide are speaking out, writing letters, holding meetings, hosting teleconferences and even getting non-aviation organizations involved in the effort to halt the ATC privatization effort in its tracks,” said Steve Hadley, NBAA’s director of regional programs and Southwest regional representative.

“To their credit, some business aviation groups have even sent delegations to Capitol Hill to meet face-to-face with their senators and representatives to make sure they understand the harmful effects that a privatized ATC could have on business aviation,” added Hadley.

Other regional business aviation groups have sent strongly worded letters to their federal representatives, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-1-WI), Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Bill Shuster (R-9-PA) and President Donald Trump.

While the House has not yet introduced its FAA reauthorization bill, the president’s “skinny” budget, which was released last month, appears to endorse ATC privatization – a proposal strongly opposed by NBAA and other aviation stakeholders. Such a system would put control of the public airspace into the hands a private entity overseen by an airline-centric board of directors.

“On behalf of the Utah Business Aviation Association (UBAA), I am sending this letter to request that you oppose any attempt by Congress to privatize our nation’s air traffic control system and fund it with user fees,” wrote UBAA President Jeff Hansen. “Congressional oversight of the nation’s aviation system ensures that the public interest – including the people and companies that rely on aviation in small towns and communities – is served. Privatizing our air traffic control system could jeopardize these jobs and economic activity by threatening general aviation access to airports and airspace.”
View the UBAA letter. (PDF)

“We are troubled that this proposal would hurt communities not near hubs, and further limit access to our nation’s air transport system,” wrote Florida Aviation Business Association (FABA) board member Wesley Earl, who added that his state is home to numerous aircraft manufacturers in addition to companies that rely on business aviation. “We are concerned that this proposal would be accompanied by user fees, which would bring additional harm to Florida and communities such as ours.”
View FABA’s letter. (PDF)

Jeff Taylor, president of the Dallas, TX-based Love Field Pilot’s Association, wrote in a letter to the president, “We have already seen the negative effects from similarly privatized 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.

“Furthermore, the skies over the U.S. are a national asset, and the general aviation community is committed to ensuring that the national air transportation system benefits all Americans,” he added.
View the Love Field Pilot’s Association letter. (PDF)

Some of the other regional groups that have engaged in letter-writing efforts opposing ATC privatization include the Colorado Business Aviation Association, the Alabama Business Aviation Association, the North Texas Business Aviation Association and the False River Regional Airport in Louisiana.