Advocates Say Last-Minute Bill Change Threatens ATC


After GA advocates had breathed a sigh of relief, believing that the ATC privatization battle was won for this year, House Transportation Committee chairman Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa, introduced a last-minute amendment to the FAA funding bill on Tuesday that raised alarm. Section 5 of the amendment calls for moving the FAA Air Traffic Organization, the entity inside the FAA tasked with managing air traffic control, to instead report to the Department of Transportation, AOPA reported. The amendment also would appoint a 13-member board to “advise” the DOT on how to run the system. That board, which would not be subject to any public input, resembles the same airline-influenced board Shuster had in the bill he withdrew in February, AOPA says. “This potentially creates a real safety issue for all of aviation and the general public,” said Jim Coon, AOPA’s senior vice president of government affairs. “There is no entity other than the FAA with the expertise, knowledge and experience to run the largest, most complex air traffic system in the world.” The House is expected to vote on the bill as soon as Wednesday.

EAA Chairman Jack Pelton also responded quickly to the amendment, calling on EAA members Tuesday afternoon to contact their congressional representatives immediately, to oppose the plan. “This is a devious, backroom maneuver after public and congressional opinion showed to be solidly against ATC privatization and caused the withdrawal of the original bill,” said Pelton. “This is reckless, punitive policymaking that circumvents any public input. We believe that was exactly the intent of this amendment at this time.” The provision would “set the stage for airline domination of the ATC system,” EAA said. Aviation advocacy groups sent a letter on Tuesday to House leadership and members, urging them to drop Section 5 of Shuster’s amendment to H.R. 4. The groups urged their members to contact their representatives immediately. Click here for the full text of the proposed amendment, with the “FAA Organizational Reform” section starting on Page 30.