Bolen Again Raises Concerns Over Privatized ATC Funded With User Fees

Contact: Dan Hubbard, (202) 783-9360,

Washington, DC, Nov. 4, 2015 ­–  In comments provided at a major Washington policy forum today, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) President and CEO Ed Bolen amplified his concerns over recently discussed proposals for creating a privatized air traffic control (ATC) system funded by user fees.

Bolen’s remarks reaffirmed messages sent by NBAA and other industry stakeholders who oppose such measures, since the issue resurfaced earlier this year as part of the ongoing debate over reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“The public airspace belongs to the public,” Bolen said during a panel discussion at the Air Traffic Controllers Association’s (ATCA’s) 60th Annual Conference & Exposition held in Washington Harbor, MD. “It is the public’s elected representatives who should continue to ensure that our airspace is managed in the best interest of all Americans, rather than to the exclusive benefit of some industry group, or combination of industry groups.”

Bolen reminded the audience that a privatized ATC system supported by user fees has long been a top priority of several large airlines, and he cautioned that such a system could ultimately shut out general aviation operators in favor of commercial operations.

“It has long been clear that the end game of those airlines has been control of the system for their exclusive benefit,” Bolen added, suggesting that those parties could be left to make decisions about where and when companies using business aviation could operate, how much it would cost them to do so, and what mechanism – including user fees – would be applied for utilization of the aviation system.

While Bolen reiterated that business aircraft operators remain firmly opposed to a privatized ATC network funded by user fees, he added that simply maintaining the status quo in FAA reauthorization legislation was not an acceptable outcome. Instead, he offered several targeted solutions to identified problems, including exemption of Aviation Trust Fund revenues from the sequestration process.

Bolen went on to note that several speakers on the ATCA panel recognized that the United States currently has the most efficient air transportation system in the world – a reality confirmed in a September 2015 report to Congress by the FAA Office of Inspector General.

He added that the panel also appeared to reach consensus that the FAA has continued making meaningful progress in the transition to a satellite-based Next Generation, or “NextGen” ATC system; progress due, at least in part, to input from general aviation industry stakeholders, through the FAA’s NextGen Advisory Committee.

In addition to his participation at the ATCA forum, and on other recently convened panels, Bolen has consistently stated NBAA’s opposition to the creation of a privatized ATC system funded by user fees before congressional committees, at aviation industry events and through a June 2015 “Call to Action” for NBAA Members to contact their elected representatives on Capitol Hill about the issue. Read more about the Call to Action.

The question of creating a privatized ATC system funded by user fees is expected to be a prominent topic of discussion at the upcoming NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA2015), Nov. 17 to 19 in Las Vegas, NV.

Other ATCA panel participants included Peter Challan, vice president of government relations at the Harris Corporation; David Grizzle, former FAA chief operating officer and founder of Dazzle Partners, LLC; Bob Poole, director of transportation policy and Searle Freedom Trust Transportation Fellow at the Reason Foundation; National Air Traffic Controllers Association President Paul Rinaldi; and Mark Baker, president and CEO of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

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Founded in 1947 and based in Washington, DC, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) is the leading organization for companies that rely on general aviation aircraft to help make their businesses more efficient, productive and successful. The Association represents more than 10,000 companies and provides more than 100 products and services to the business aviation community, including the NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition, the world’s largest civil aviation trade show. Learn more about NBAA at

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