Aug. 3, 2017

Rep Tom Cole

Opposition continues to mount against a House bill, H.R. 2997, to privatize ATC services in the U.S., with Rep. Tom Cole (R-4-OK) the latest lawmaker on Capitol Hill to echo concerns expressed by NBAA and hundreds of other concerned stakeholders who are fighting the controversial proposal.

“Congressman Cole recognizes the negative impacts that a privatized ATC system would have on his state and the entire country, especially rural communities that rely on general aviation as a lifeline,” said NBAA President CEO Ed Bolen. “We commend him for speaking out against ATC privatization.”

In a post to his website titled, “If the FAA’s Not Broke, Don’t Try to Fix It,” Cole emphasized the importance of congressional authority over ATC and the FAA in maintaining open access to ATC services and ensuring safety.

“Because of its balanced approach to regulation and operational standards, the FAA has made our skies the safest and most reliable airspace in the world,” said Cole.

Cole then cited several potential dangers in granting authority over the ATC system to a “corporate-like entity” that would enable airlines to select its board of directors. “Not only would this proverbial fox watch the hen house, it would also have the authority to set fees and dictate regulatory policy,” he noted.

Privatization would also hand “billions of dollars’ worth of assets purchased by federal funds” to this entity, Cole continued, raising significant concerns regarding accountability, higher fees for travelers and potential misuse of those funds, as well as “policy implications that range from issues such as general resources to the operation of rural airports and contract control towers.”

Oklahoma is home to more than 4,700 FAA employees, including the agency’s training center for controllers. Cole emphasized that a privatized ATC system “could damage the dedicated workforce that has sustained safe and transparent skies in Oklahoma and across the nation.

“[O]ur skies benefit greatly from the FAA and the air traffic controllers who direct the traffic of our airlines and general aviation,” he concluded. “The FAA has worked well for our nation for many years. If it’s not broke, then don’t try to fix it.”

Read Cole’s statement against ATC privatization.

A growing number of people and organizations have raised concerns about the legislation, including congressional leaders from both political parties, non-partisan government scorekeepers, more than 100 aviation organizations, more than 100 business leaders, 100 U.S. mayors and a majority of American citizens.

NBAA has mobilized the business aviation community to oppose H.R. 2997, issuing calls to action urging association members to use NBAA’s Contact Congress email and social media tools to alert lawmakers to the industry’s opposition to the bill.

NBAA has also established a toll-free action line – 1-833-GA-VOICE – to connect association members with their elected representatives, and the association has developed a brief list of suggested talking points for callers. Visit Contact Congress to learn more about these initiatives for mobilizing in opposition to H.R. 2997.