Advocates Speak Out On Veteran Flight Training, ATC Reform

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A bill that would cap flight-training benefits for veterans at $20,235 should be scrapped, seven GA advocacy groups told Congress in a letter (PDF) issued today. "This legislation would effectively put flying careers out of reach for many vets," said Jim Coon, AOPA spokesman for government affairs. "There are great jobs in aviation, and our nation's veterans have earned a right to pursue those opportunities." Flight training does not qualify for a federally backed student loan, the groups noted in their letter, "and therefore is treated by most financial institutions as an unsecured loan at interest rates often exceeding 12 percent." Also today, NATA told the House Transportation Committee about its views regarding proposed changes to air traffic control.

NATA said it is opposed to the creation of a user fee-funded, federally chartered, not-for-profit air traffic control corporation. NATA president Thomas Hendricks said (PDF) that while the major airlines would benefit from the proposed system, general aviation users would not be well served. "Absent Congressional oversight, this proposed construct risks unconstrained cost increases being passed along to other users of the system," Hendricks said. "NATA regrets that it cannot support a bill that however well intended, will not in its current form, achieve the policy goals it was created to address." The bill now under consideration in the House calls for transferring responsibility for air traffic control from the FAA to a new independent agency within three years. NATCA and most airlines have endorsed the plan, but general aviation advocacy groups are mainly opposed.