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White House Makes ATC Privatization Part of Proposed Budget
May 25, 2017 - As expected, on May 24 White House officials included privatization of national air traffic control operations in its proposed federal budget, closely mirroring the Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act of 2016 that was shelved by the full House of Representatives last year.
“EAA continues to be opposed to ATC privatization because it cedes overwhelming influence over the future control of and access to the National Airspace System to the nation’s airlines and other major business interests in a manner that is contrary to the long-term viability of general aviation. We also believe that control of the air operations system should remain in the hands of Congress so that all aviation and non-aviation stakeholders in the NAS are fairly and broadly represented. Finally, proposals we have seen thus far offered flawed business plans that do not account for the real costs of operations or any transition and indeed are projected by the White House to increase the budget deficit by more than $46 billion over the next decade,” said Jack J. Pelton, EAA CEO and Chairman.
Pelton, who participated in a White House briefing on the issue earlier in May, added that the proposal faces an uncertain future in Congress because of those and other concerns regarding the wholesale transfer of taxpayer-funded infrastructure to a private entity.
EAA board member Joe Brown testified before a House committee on May 17 that ATC privatization would not be in the best interests of the nation or the overall aviation community. He doubted a cooperative of special interests would be able to safely operate the world’s busiest airspace and bring modernization, while operating in the public’s best interests.
Today’s air traffic proposal from the White House admits that there are “numerous stakeholders both inside and outside the federal government that care about access and the day-to-day operations of the nation’s airspace. As the user community of the nation’s airspace expands to include unmanned aerial vehicles, new concerns from our local communities will need to be addressed.”
Pelton notes that comparisons of the AIRR Act proposal to other countries that that have created privatized systems are not valid, due to air traffic volume, different governing models, or impact on existing non-commercial operations. EAA will continue to aggressively communicate its concerns to the administration and members of Congress as the FAA reauthorization legislative process advances.