FAA Spinoff Bill Gains Traction

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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.

Comments (7)

3 out of 13 seats? What happened to Chicken Little's prediction of "complete control by the airlines?"

Posted by: Tom Yarsley | June 28, 2017 10:24 AM    Report this comment

Tom,

Consider how many the government will appoint and how few of them will give a flying -expletive- less about little aluminum spam cans. This is the same government that is a revolving door of people who usually worked for the companies they are overseeing, or are overseeing companies that they end up working for after leaving. Most of these people, if not all, will never have been in a plane that isn't at least a bizjet or larger.

It's just like the promise that GA users will be exempt from user fees: a platitude to sell the product. After it's in place, even if there is language that specifically states that any airplane under 12,500lbs MGTOW is exempt from fees in the bill, you can expect that to change in short order. Now it is likely not going to happen until the transition is complete + 1 year, but it will (almost assuredly) happen.

Posted by: Joe Servov | June 28, 2017 10:43 AM    Report this comment

How are airspace violations to be handled? Why have we not already handed highway traffic laws and procedures to a non government (civilian) board? Some might say common sense has answered this and privatization lost.

Posted by: Art Sebesta | June 28, 2017 11:59 AM    Report this comment

"The bill would create a board of directors with the power to impose user fees; however, general aviation users would be exempt from fees."

"We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately." - Benjamin Franklin

Posted by: MICHAEL MUETZEL | June 28, 2017 4:23 PM    Report this comment

"The bill would create a board of directors with the power to impose user fees; however, general aviation users would be exempt from fees."

Well, that's reassuring.

"We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately." Benjamin Franklin

Posted by: MICHAEL MUETZEL | June 28, 2017 4:25 PM    Report this comment

I find it interesting that NATCA supports privatzation - because it supports their members' pay, benefits and bargaining rights. Who cares whether it is best for the flying public?

Posted by: John McNamee | June 29, 2017 12:09 PM    Report this comment

The composition of the ATC Corporation's board of directors appears more balanced than in the original House Bill which went to lengths to exclude commercial part 91 and part 135 operators from representation.

However, it keeps two objectionable provisions: 1) piston engine operators are exempt from any fees; and 2) the workforce retains its federal compensation and retirement - the corporation will pay the government to continue to administer these benefits in place - and likely regains the right to strike, binding arbitration notwithstanding.

Allowing one segment of airspace users to pay nothing defies any but the most cynical logic. Joe is probably correct predicting this provision won't last 2 years. A reasonable annual fee would be fairer and smarter.

Accommodating NATCA makes it difficult for the Corporation to extract any significant operating savings. Nav Canada offered similar labor concessions, and about 70% of Nav Canada's expenses over its first 7 years were labor.

Posted by: kim hunter | July 1, 2017 9:51 PM    Report this comment

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