Anti-Privatization Bill Floated

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There could soon be a law to stop something the FAA swears will never happen, anyway. A bipartisan bill has been introduced that would bar the Department of Transportation from contracting out air traffic control services to commercial interests. Four senior members of transportation and aviation subcommittees sponsored the bill, including Rep. James L. Oberstar (D-Minn), Rep. Frank Lobiondo (R-N.J.), Rep. Pter Defazio (D-Ore.) and Rep. Jack Quinn (R-N.Y.). The National Air Traffic Controllers Association is naturally delighted. (more)"We have said aviation safety is neither a Republican nor Democratic issue and this bill proves that with its bipartisan support," said NATCA President John Carr. NATCA has been lobbying heavily for such action since earlier this year when the FAA classified air traffic control as a "commercial activity" in an annual report all government agencies must file to the Office of Management and Budget. The reports are intended to identify government functions that could potentially be privatized and those that are "inherently governmental." FAA spokesmen insist the classification was changed only because the definition of government-only services is so narrow that ATC doesn't fit. But the agency, including administrator Marion Blakey, have repeatedly said there are no plans to privatize ATC.