July 21, 2017


Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger is urging people to oppose legislation that would privatize the nation’s ATC system in a new, 30-second video.

In the ad, Sullenberger, the pilot who made a heroic emergency landing of a US Airways airliner in the Hudson River in 2009, calls privatization “a threat to our nation’s security, safety, access and basic fairness.”

“Lobbyists want to privatize air traffic control, handing control to the largest airlines, giving them the keys to the kingdom,” he says in the video. “We can’t trust the people who make your airline seats smaller to run ATC. This would allow a corporate monopoly to make decisions that put profits ahead of safety and would devastate rural communities.”

Sullenberger tweeted about the video on July 21.

Sullenberger’s video comes on the heels of a July 13 interview he gave regarding ATC privatization to Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric. “My real issue, and I think for many people, is that we have a wonderful and unique freedom in this country, this unfettered, wonderful aviation system that anyone can participate in safely and efficiently,” Sullenberger told Couric.

Read the full interview.

“In most countries, it’s either too restrictive or too expensive for an average person to fly, and the only way you can go is on an airliner or a military flight,” continued Sullenberger. The freedom to fly in the U.S. “is something that we need to protect and preserve. So why in the world would we give the keys to the kingdom to the largest airlines? Because they definitely have their own agenda – to lower their costs.”

In a press release, NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen welcomed Sully’s interview comments. “When a hero with a half-century of flying experience speaks out against privatization, members of Congress should pay attention,” Bolen said at the time. “We couldn’t agree more with Capt. Sullenberger’s comments, and we hope they are considered carefully during the FAA reauthorization debate on Capitol Hill.”

NBAA has long held significant concerns with the notion of privatizing ATC, which would turn control of the system – a natural monopoly that currently serves the public’s interest, and is overseen by the public’s elected representatives in Congress – over to a new entity governed by private interests unaccountable to congressional oversight.

A controversial bill containing ATC privatization, H.R. 2997, was introduced earlier this year by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-9-PA) as part of a continuing congressional debate over reauthorization of funding and programs for the FAA.

Sullenberger is hardly alone in sounding the alarm over ATC privatization. A growing number of people and groups have also raised concerns about the legislation, including federal, state and local lawmakers from both parties, non-partisan government scorekeepers, more than 100 aviation organizations, more than 100 business leaders and the majority of American citizens.

NBAA has been mobilizing the business aviation community through several Calls to Action, urging association members to use NBAA’s online Contact Congress resource to email or tweet their opposition to the bill, and has introduced a toll-free action line – 855-265-9002 – to connect association members with their elected representatives, with a brief list of suggested talking points for callers.