April 10, 2017

Ralph Abraham (R-5-LA)

Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-5-LA), a pilot who has flown both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, recently urged White House officials to reconsider the administration’s apparent decision to seek privatization of the nation’s ATC system.

In an April 6 letter to the president, Abraham expressed “deep concern over the detrimental effects that privatization would have on the National Airspace System (NAS).” The congressman called the current excise tax on aviation fuel, paid by general aviation operators, a fair model that ensures the most equitable collection and distribution of revenues to airports.

“Establishing a private ATC board authority outside the purview of Congress with the unilateral power to impose user fees and allocate resources could potentially raise costs, reduce general aviation, reduce revenues, and displace funding for small regional airports,” Abraham wrote.

“I have flown extensively in the U.S. and Canada, and can report from experience that while the U.S. is the busiest and most complex airspace in the world, it is also the safest and most accessible,” Abraham declared. “Overhauling a model that has worked for generations threatens this accessibility, and would have a negative impact on passengers, general aviation, families, and businesses and airports across the country.”

Read Rep. Abraham’s full letter to the president.

The idea of privatizing ATC has been put forward as part of the continuing congressional debate over the reauthorization of funding and programs for the FAA. Any concerns with the FAA, Abraham wrote, should be resolved with targeted congressional and executive-branch reforms – not by giving management of the nation’s public airspace to a private board.

NBAA has long opposed ATC privatization proposals pushed by big airlines, noting the likely detrimental impact such a move would have for the many small and mid-size communities across the U.S. that rely on general aviation.

“Congressman Abraham, with his unique perspective as both a pilot and a public policymaker, understands this issue as well as anyone,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “We thank him for raising concerns about this important issue.”