February 26, 2016 - After Thursday’s announcement by leadership in the House of Representatives that ATC privatization is dead, EAA continues to focus on moving forward with the elements of the bill that are important to general aviation, including reforms in aeromedical and aircraft certification as well as hangar-use policy, that were included in the original House FAA reauthorization bill.
“First, it’s important to thank every EAA member who raised a voice in opposition to ATC privatization. Those thousands of voices were vitally important and made a difference on a matter that would have been devastating to general aviation,” said EAA CEO/Chairman Jack Pelton. “This win allows us to focus on the issues that are tremendously important to the GA community and to EAA members. We have already started that work to make sure the provisions that lower barriers to the freedom of flight are kept alive in future legislation that is being drafted as we speak.”
The Senate is already drafting its own FAA reauthorization bill that does not contain the ATC privatization provisions, instead focusing on matters that have broad agreement. The Senate Commerce Committee plans to introduce its own reauthorization bill in the next week or so and that bill could progress to the Senate floor as early as April. EAA has been working with senators to ensure that the next bill includes issues of importance to general aviation. While the Senate plans to move quickly, it is highly unlikely a bill will be advanced by the end of March when the current FAA funding extension expires. Thus, a short-term continuing resolution to maintain FAA funding is necessary.
The end of the ATC privatization threat for the time being puts aeromedical reform back to center stage of priorities. The Senate by unanimous consent passed aeromedical reform language as part of the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 in December. EAA, AOPA and other GA organizations are working hard to ensure that language is included in any Senate FAA reauthorization bill.
“The Senate told us point-blank in December how far it would go on medical reform, and House opposition was mounting to broader medical language in the now-defunct FAA reauthorization bill,” Pelton said. “The Senate has already unanimously passed its legislation on this matter, so EAA aims to see it fully included in any Senate FAA reauthorization measure. We will also look for every possible opportunity for more favorable language now and in the future.”
Other areas that were included in the original House Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act, such as Part 23 aircraft certification reform and full acknowledgement of active homebuilding as an aeronautical activity for airport hangar use, are also among EAA’s priorities when meeting with senators and their staffs.
We will continue to update EAA members as this fast-moving story develops further.