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Real time: Negative Consequences of ATC Privatization

American pilot in New Zealand says system there has wrecked GA

September 21, 2017 - An American citizen and EAA member now living in New Zealand wrote to his U.S. congressional representatives with a prime example of how ATC privatization smothers general aviation activity, urging lawmakers here to reject the privatization outlined in House bill H.R. 2997. He shared that letter with EAA this week, and it is a warning as to why GA pilots should continue to contact their lawmakers to oppose privatization.

“I loved flying in Colorado and cherished airports such as Boulder, Longmont (Vance Brand), and Erie to name a few,” Wilt Hodges, EAA 1051597, wrote to the Colorado delegation. “Since I came to New Zealand, I have practically quit flying because the system is so bad.”

Hodges reported that the New Zealand system, in the form of State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs), has no obligation to citizen-pilot complaints. He reports that there is a long list of obstacles to flying and each has a fee attached. Hodges added, “The only GA operations that are (barely) surviving are the Part 141 schools that train people to be airline pilots and leave their customers with horrific student loans.”

He left his U.S. representatives with a simple plea: “Please don’t kill private aviation in Colorado.”

“While we have many great EAA members in New Zealand who find ways to fly under that country’s system, Wilt has a unique and important perspective of his aviation experiences in both countries,” said EAA CEO and Chairman of the Board Jack J. Pelton. “It makes no sense to take the best, safest, and most complex airspace control system in the world and turn it over to commercial interests that have profit, not the public interest, as a primary goal. It is crony capitalism at its worst.”

In addition, airline pilot Kevin Dingman, in a column titled “Bee Hive Basics” in September’s Twin & Turbine magazine, wrote that airlines are promoting privatization but ignoring the real cause of their delays: traffic saturation by the airlines themselves.  

“If airline executives and politicians would look further down the runway, they would preserve and promote the freedoms, efficiencies, and new-pilot supply chain of GA,” Dingman wrote.

The House was in recess this week, but EAA and other general aviation organization continue to urge lawmakers to reject the privatization provisions in HR 2997. There is pressure to bring the bill to a floor vote in the next week or so, which is why it’s important that GA supporters keep up the pressure on lawmakers. The GA groups also wrote to Congress to support at least a six-month funding extension to keep FAA running and not delay current modernization progress.

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