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EAA Engaged in Fight Against ATC Privatization
By Megan Esau
July 23, 2017 - EAA remains engaged in the battle against air traffic control privatization, which poses devastating threats to general aviation, throughout the week of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2017.
The House of Representatives’ 21st Century Aviation Innovation, Reform and Reauthorization Act (H.R. 2997), as proposed by Rep. Bill Schuster (R-Pennsylvania), would establish a private, nonprofit entity run by a board dominated by the airlines and other commercial and financial interests.
Not only would such a board favor airlines and others with overwhelming financial power, it would also rely on the flying public to pay for its operations, creating a concentration of funding and resources around high-traffic, urban facilities served by the nation’s air carriers.
Although promises have been made to protect general aviation from ATC user fees, a privatized system will inevitably aim to reduce its own expenses by eliminating services, or shifting costs to system users. Funding for rural infrastructure and safety features, such as towers and instrument landing facilities, would be threatened under the proposed arrangement.
In addition, though proponents of ATC privatization argue the FAA’s existing modernization program has been slow to implement, the transition to a privatized system would take five to seven years to complete. That timeline would greatly disrupt the current timetable for completion of the FAA’s modernization program.
“As we have previously stated, privatizing ATC is a bad solution in search of a nonexistent problem,” said EAA CEO and Chairman Jack J. Pelton. “The unknown costs, transition, and fallout from this plan would be extremely harmful to general aviation. EAA supports modernization of the American airspace system, and progress is happening with the input of all the system’s stakeholders. This new legislation would do nothing to solve any current technology or efficiency issues, while undermining the world’s most extensive general aviation system and disrupting the world’s largest and safest air traffic control system.”
Since February, Pelton and members of EAA’s government advocacy team have engaged in numerous conversations on Capitol Hill and in the White House, imploring lawmakers to vote against H.R. 2997. On June 21, EAA signed a joint statement to Congress that strongly opposes ATC privatization, which has garnered signatures from 130 general aviation organizations throughout the country.
The bill could come up for a vote as early as this week, and EAA needs members of the general aviation community to make their voices heard to protect the freedom to fly. There are a number of ways EAA members and AirVenture guests can speak out against ATC privatization during the convention.
An anti-privatization rally will be held today at 11:30 a.m. at Theater in the Woods with EAA CEO and Chairman Jack J. Pelton. He will be joined by leaders from AOPA, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), and the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) for a town-hall style discussion on the devastating threat H.R. 2997 poses to general aviation.
Volunteers in red “Modernize, NOT Privatize” shirts will also be throughout the grounds, helping visitors call their elected representatives from the AirVenture grounds. A toll-free number has been set up at 855-265-9002 that will connect members directly to their lawmakers’ office. EAA urges everyone attending AirVenture this year to reach out to your elected officials to voice your concerns and opposition.