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Senate Leaders Concerned about Possible ATC Privatization

March 2, 2017 - Echoing many of the concerns stated by EAA over the past year, a bipartisan leadership group from two U.S. Senate committees on Tuesday expressed doubts regarding separating air traffic control functions from the FAA by creating a privately-led organization.

A letter to Sens. John Thune (R-South Dakota) and Bill Nelson (D-Florida), the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, questioned the wisdom of breaking apart the FAA and creating a separate air traffic organization that would be overwhelmingly influenced by airline interests. The letter was signed by Sens. Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), the chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, and by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island), the chair and ranking member of the Senate Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies.

“Furthermore, the public would not be well-served by exempting any part of the FAA from annual congressional oversight,” the letter stated. “A privatized system would provide consumers with no recourse for complaints or mistreatment, as it currently does through the U.S. Department of Transportation or their members of Congress.”

The letter also reinforces EAA’s concerns that a privatized national airspace system would threaten a system that works for all aviation stakeholders, including general aviation, and small and rural communities. The correspondence also disputes claims of a lack of stable funding for the FAA, as it maintains that the Senate Appropriations Committee has provided more than 99 percent of the administration’s budget request since 2008.

“We appreciate the importance of your work to ensure the next (FAA) authorization supports aviation safety and addresses important issues, such as the modernization of our air traffic control system, the timely certification of aviation products, and the integration of unmanned aerial systems and commercial spacecraft into our national airspace,” the letter concluded. “These efforts would be undermined, devastating a core component of our economy, if any legislation seeks to separate the ATO from the rest of the FAA’s operations.”

EAA is actively working this issue, connecting with congressional representatives to find real solutions for all of aviation. 

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