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EAA Continues to Monitor for ATC Privatization Threats

July 23, 2018 - Six months after air traffic control privatization language was removed from an FAA reauthorization bill in the U.S. House of Representatives in February, scoring a victory for general aviation, EAA continues to monitor for any threats of the issue resurfacing.

The proposal for ATC privatization in H.R. 2997 by Rep. Bill Schuster would have removed air traffic control services from FAA oversight to that of a private board dominated by airline interests that would give little voice to general aviation or consideration to GA’s operational concerns.

Numerous nonpartisan watchdog agencies, including the Congressional Budget Office, the Government Accountability Office, and the Congressional Research Service, reported that ATC privatization would have added a projected $100 billion to the federal deficit, would not speed up modernization, and could have been unconstitutional.

EAA, along with AOPA, GAMA, and NBAA, was among a coalition of more than 200 aviation organizations, consumer advocates, mayors throughout the U.S., and some conservative groups that worked tirelessly to halt H.R. 2997. Throughout 2017, EAA members also made their voices heard to their representatives, sending 11,500 messages to lawmakers during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh alone.

The latest major attempt to privatize air traffic control came in late April 2018, when Schuster made a manager’s amendment to a bill — H.R. 4 — that would have created an advisory council again dominated by the airlines. The amendment was dropped after just one day, following a rapid response by the general aviation community contacting congressional representatives to oppose the plan.

On June 21, 2018, six associations representing the general aviation industry, including EAA, issued a statement strongly opposing President Donald Trump’s administration’s inclusion of the already-failed idea of ATC privatization in its government reorganization proposal.

The reorganization proposal came less than two weeks after United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz indicated the airlines could soon develop a renewed effort to separate air traffic control from the FAA.

As reported in Politico by Tanya Snyder, Munoz told reporters on June 7 that after the airlines coalesce around a plan, they’ll, “Provide that input and then work with the government to make that move forward.”

EAA and other GA organizations support the continued modernization of the national airspace system, but not at the cost of equal access to the airspace or minimizing GA’s important role within the nation’s aviation infrastructure.

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