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Washington, DC, June 21, 2017 – The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) today stated its opposition to legislation containing a breathtaking giveaway of sweeping authority over the nation’s air traffic control (ATC) system to a new entity governed by private interests.
The legislation is designed to reauthorize funding and programs for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-9-PA) unveiled the bill today as a long-term measure to fund the FAA after the current budget extension expires Sept. 30, 2017.
“As Congress debates FAA reauthorization, NBAA has continually supported measures aimed at aviation system modernization. It is imperative we ensure the U.S. has the world’s best air transportation system, today and in the future,” NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen said.
“But let’s not confuse modernization with privatization. Our nation’s ATC system is and always will be a monopoly, and that monopoly must operate in the public’s best interest. This bill proposes to strip control over that monopoly from the public’s elected representatives, and essentially hand sweeping authority to a group of private parties, which will likely make decisions based on their business interests.”
Bolen noted that among the many potentially harmful consequences of such an outcome are the possibility that access to the nation’s airports and airspace could become restricted.
“For a variety of reasons, we know that the citizens, companies and communities relying on general aviation for connectivity, civil services and other needs will be the ones most at risk if America’s aviation system is turned over to a private board largely unaccountable to Congress,” Bolen continued.
“NBAA has long supported implementation of targeted solutions to identified problems to ensure America’s aviation system remains the world’s best in all aspects, for the next five years, 10 years, 25 years and beyond. What we don’t support is a plan to give away control over the nation’s aviation system.”
Following the introduction of the House FAA bill, NBAA signed on to a position statement issued by the association and five other aviation organizations, opposing ATC privatization.
“We believe Chairman Shuster has raised the issue of reform in a meaningful and thoughtful manner, and while we enjoy the safest most efficient air traffic control system in the world, we also believe that reforms, short of privatization, can better address the FAA’s need to improve its ability to modernize our system,” the statement reads. “We have concluded that any structural and governance reforms that require protections for an important sector of users is fundamentally flawed.”
Bolen noted that, in addition to the concerns raised by aviation groups over concepts like the one included in the bill released today, other individuals and organizations on the political left and right, elected officials at the federal and local levels, business leaders from across the country and a majority of American citizens have questioned the concept.
Bolen urged NBAA members to utilize the association’s online Contact Congress resource to make their voices heard in opposition to the legislation. Access NBAA’s Contact Congress message opposing the bill.