...Alphabet Groups Want Bill Passed...

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Alphabet groups, which have generally favored keeping air traffic control a government function, appear willing to concede the 69 towers to ensure the rest of the goodies contained in the bill are preserved. AOPA issued an analysis of the current situation last week that included an explanation of its position that "the total benefits of the bill to general aviation outweigh the concern over the 'qualified' anti-privatization language." The National Air Transportation Association also maintains there is too much good in the bill to jeopardize over a "theoretical labor-management tug of war." The controllers' concerns notwithstanding, there appears to be something for everyone in the bill. For instance, AOPA likes the $14 billion in airport construction (including some specifically for GA airports), changes to the "pilot insecurity rule" that ensure a third-party hearing for any airman stripped of his or her certificate, and the so-called "Meigs Rule," levying stiff fines to any jurisdiction that arbitrarily closes an airport without the FAA's required notice. NATA members recently held their Day On The Hill, in which about 100 members showed up in Washington to personally lobby on aviation-related topics. The FAA bill, with its $100 million in compensation for 9/11-affected businesses, was near the top of the agenda. NATA also lauded the $2 billion budgeted for airport explosives-detection equipment. "Too many critical areas of the aviation industry stand to suffer if this measure is not law by Sept. 30," said NATA President James Coyne.