FAA Spinoff Bill Gains Traction
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved a proposal on Tuesday to separate air traffic control from the FAA and transfer to it a nonprofit corporation over three years, according to a report in The Hill. The bill would create a board of directors with the power to impose user fees; however, general aviation users would be exempt from fees. The board’s 13 members would include three from the airlines – one each for passenger, cargo and regional carriers – and one seat each for GA and business aviation. The rest of the seats would be occupied by government, airports, air traffic controllers, commercial pilots and two more members chosen by the group. The FAA would retain safety oversight. The FAA bill will be considered on the House floor next month.
About 35,000 workers, including 14,000 controllers and 6,000 technicians, would be affected by moving air traffic control operations out of the FAA, according to USA Today. NATCA President Paul Rinaldi said last week he would support the House bill. “After extremely careful review, consideration, and deliberation, we have decided to support the bill because it fully aligns with NATCA’s policies, practices, and core principles,” he said in a news release. “We made sure that we clearly understood how this bill would protect the National Airspace System and allow it to continue to grow, as well as how it would protect the men and women who are the backbone of the system. This bill protects our workforce – including pay, benefits, retirement, and collective bargaining rights.”
Most GA advocacy groups have expressed opposition to separating ATC from the FAA, and instead support the Senate version of the bill, which would retain ATC in its current form. “Privatizing ATC is a bad solution in search of a nonexistent problem,” said EAA Chairman Jack Pelton. “The unknown costs, transition, and fallout from this plan would be extremely harmful to general aviation.” The two versions must still be worked out in Congress before a final version of the bill becomes law.