Graves Fights For ATC Privatization

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One of the most influential members of the so-called GA Caucus in Congress recently announced his support for privatization of air traffic control as a vote looms next week on the bill that would hand it over to a nonprofit corporation. Rep. Sam Graves voted against privatization last year but, according to The Hill, Graves switched horses after he spent the year convincing the architect of the bill, House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Penn., to exempt GA from user fees in the bill. “We’ve got a lot of folks that are operating off of last year’s bill, which is a completely different bill. We want to get information out there,” Graves told reporters as he joined other GOP members in whipping votes for the bill. He faced a tough crowd at his annual Wing Nuts Flying Circus and Fly-In at his home airport of Tarkio, Missouri, July 8.

The hometown fly-in attracts the leaders of all aviation groups who can rub elbows with influential members of Congress. Graves took the stage to explain his rationale for supporting the current bill to turn air traffic control over to a nonprofit corporation run by a board of directors representing aviation and government interests. The aviation groups were having none of it, according to AOPA. “I do a lot of town halls, and I’ve not heard yet from one aviator or aircraft owner who believes a privatized system would be better than the one we have today,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. EAA Chairman Jack Pelton said privatization is a misnomer for this bill. “If you’re a free market capitalist, it (H.R. 2997) violates every principle of free market capitalism, because you’re handing a public interest over to monopoly,” AOPA quoted Pelton as saying.

Comments (5)

I read the bill this past week. If I recall correctly there's one small bullet that exempts Part 91 and other Parts from the User Fees. Having watched our government for more years than I care to count, that bullet is one future bill away from being stricken. Let's look at how the GA exemption will be sullied and sold to the airline passenger public at some future date. General aviation, where all the rich own their own aircraft (class envy) and they're exempt from paying the ATC User Fees. You the ticket purchasing public are paying more than your "fair share". How long do you think this exemption will last? Once the fee collection infrastructure is in place and ADS-B Out is tracking our every move, it won't be long before GA is speared. This is definitely letting the camel's nose get under the tent. I'm shocked Rep. Graves can't see the probability here. The fuel tax works and the ATC system isn't broken. Please, US House of Representitives, don't repeat the same mistakes as our neighbors.

Posted by: Robert Mahoney | July 16, 2017 11:21 AM    Report this comment

Politicians keep wanting to "fix" problems by treating the symptoms. The main problem with ATC and the FAA is an unreliable funding system, not who runs ATC. The Senate version of the FAA funding bill solves the problem without giving control of ATC to the airlines. I wonder if Rep. Graves has actually read the bill or is just taking some lobbyists word for how it "protects" GA? This is like turning the interstate highway system over to the trucking industry.

Posted by: John McNamee | July 16, 2017 12:36 PM    Report this comment

Yes, the comments are correct. Just like any tax, soon GA would be taxed too. Don't let them get a foot in the door

Posted by: Henry Butler | July 16, 2017 3:13 PM    Report this comment

Privatization is nothing more than PAYBACK to the applicable political candidates for their contributions. Corporations answer to a board of directors who are definitely expecting a profit.
Trust me - I know

Posted by: Franklin Culpepper | July 17, 2017 7:03 AM    Report this comment

OK. The bill may exclude user fees for today. Maybe for tomorrow. However it will be much easier for a private operating company to impose fees in the very near future if there is no Congressional oversight. The gubmint does some things much better than any for-profit entity can - like running prisons, fighting wars and air traffic control.

Posted by: Moses Lonn | July 17, 2017 11:41 AM    Report this comment

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