AOPA: Now Is Critical Time For GA


The effort now underway in Congress to privatize the air traffic control system would be a disaster for general aviation, according to Mark Baker, the president of AOPA. In a podcast interview this week, Baker told AVweb that July is a critical time for aviators to lobby their congressional representatives, if they agree with AOPA’s view that the Senate’s version of the FAA funding bill is better for GA than the House version. The House bill would spin off the FAA’s air traffic control function into a private nonprofit corporation, managed with input from the airlines. Baker says such a system would soon ignore the needs of general aviation pilots. The Senate bill aims to modernize the system, but wouldn’t privatize it, Baker said.

“We’ve gone full blast with a call to action for our members to get in touch with their representatives while they’re back in their home districts over the holiday,” Baker said. “We’ve got a good chance [to prevail] but we’ve got to rally hard.” Baker said the issue is likely to remain in play for the rest of the year, before any definitive action is taken. “What are we really trying to fix?” he asked. If glitches in the funding and budgeting system for ATC are the problem, he said, there are other ways to fix that besides privatizing. “Where is the allocation of airport money going to go, 10 years from now?” he asks. The answer will depend on how much power the airlines have in the system, he says.