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Start with Safety in Case Against ATC Privatization

January 4, 2018 — This week’s news that 2017 was the safest year on record for commercial air travel, combined with recent statistics showing continued improvement in accident rates for general aviation and amateur-built aircraft in the U.S., indicate that a unified focus on safety enhancements, procedures, and training are raising safety at all levels.

The 2017 civil aviation safety review, released by Netherlands-based To70, reported that there were no fatal commercial aviation accidents in the U.S. during the calendar year. That builds upon general aviation data last fall that showed a record-low number of fatal amateur-built accidents during a 12-month period that ended September 30, 2017, and the AOPA Air Safety Institute’s Nall Report that indicated a decreasing number of general aviation accidents overall.

“This good news from 2017 shows that in aviation, we learn from each other,” said Sean Elliott, EAA vice president of advocacy and safety. “These safety statistics are part of an effective culture that has significantly reduced aviation accidents across the board, in both commercial and general aviation, and is the result of determined effort by the community, government, and industry.”

Elliott also stated that given the positive safety numbers, any significant change to the culture – including ATC privatization – would insert a new variable that could have unforeseen consequences on safety. Those consequences could include a slowing of the current air traffic modernization progress, split authority on safety oversight, and lesser resources for rural and noncommercial airports.

“With this data in hand, it makes no sense to change the culture to an air traffic system where those in charge of it are primarily focused on profit instead of overall safety,” he said. “It is another reason EAA remains opposed to any move toward ATC privatization that is controlled by airlines.”

EAA and other GA organizations continue to staunchly oppose ATC privatization, with growing grassroots opposition to the proposal. As Congress returns to Washington this week, aviators are urged to contact their congressional representatives via ATCNotForSale.com or EAA’s Rally Congress website.

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