National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) President and CEO Ed Bolen recently welcomed a bipartisan letter from Senate Appropriations Committee leaders opposing plans for creating a privatized air traffic control (ATC) system.
The letter was sent Feb. 28 to Sen. Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD) and Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-FL), and signed by Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-MS), and Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), as well as Subcommittee Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-RI).
It comes as Congress continues debate over the reauthorization of funding and programs for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The Senate Commerce Committee is the Senate committee charged with writing legislation for FAA reauthorization.
“The public would not be well-served by exempting any part of the FAA from annual congressional oversight,” the letter states. “The annual appropriations process provides the oversight of agency resources necessary to ensure accountability for program performance and a sustained focus on aviation safety,” the letter continues. “Annual oversight also ensures that the FAA maintains a system that works throughout the aviation industry, including for general aviation, small and rural communities, commercial airlines, and large metropolitan cities.”
Read the appropriators’ letter in its entirety. https://www.nbaa.org/advocacy/letters/20170228-senate-appropriations-committee-faa-reauthorization.pdf
NBAA, its members, and other individuals and organizations have long voiced significant concerns over proposals for privatizing ATC and funding it with user fees, which are being pushed by a number of big airlines, as part of FAA reauthorization. Specifically, proposals have been promoted that would remove congressional oversight from the nation’s aviation system, and replace it with a privatized system, governed by an airline-centric board of directors, and funded through new user fees.
“We thank the Appropriations Committee leaders for sending this letter, which provides an important reminder about the need for congressional oversight of aviation-system decision making,” Bolen said. “America’s system of airports and airspace serves the public interest, including the people, businesses and communities that rely on general aviation. Congressional oversight ensures that the entire public has access to aviation.”