The last-minute amendment that Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., added to the five-year FAA funding bill on Tuesday was quickly revised after a concerted and vehement response from GA advocacy groups. In response to calls for action, “pilots flooded the switchboard at the U.S. House of Representatives, urging their members of Congress to oppose Section 5 of Shuster’s ‘manager’s amendment,'” AOPA reported on Wednesday. Shuster’s amendment had called for moving the organization that manages ATC out of the FAA and instead make it part of the Transportation Department, and also would have formed a 13-member advisory board, dominated by airline interests. “Both of these provisions were drafted in the dark of night, without any opportunity for public debate,” said NBAA.
NBAA said its members mobilized within hours, “blanketed Capitol Hill with opposition, and changed the debate on this thinly veiled airline attempt to advance their ATC takeover campaign.” AOPA also said its members quickly weighed in to oppose the amendment, leading to “a constructive dialog” with Rep. Shuster, chair of the transportation committee. “We are grateful that Chairman Shuster withdrew the most troubling language in Section 5 of the amendment,” said Jim Coon, AOPA’s senior vice president of government affairs. “We hope now H.R. 4 can move forward. All of aviation will benefit from a long-term funding bill.”
EAA also credited a “rapid response by the general aviation community” for the last-minute change. “This again showed the strong voice of general aviation when we respond in a unified effort,” said EAA Chairman Jack Pelton. The effort isn’t over yet, he added. “Although this threat has been stopped, we will continue to be very vigilant as FAA reauthorization works its way through Congress … The freedom and safety of flight is something we will protect at all times.” The revised bill now going to the House floor this week still is “not perfect,” according to the GA advocacy site atcnotforsale.com, but the bipartisan bill will modernize ATC without privatizing it. “We are grateful for the hard work of members of Congress, and their willingness to listen to constituent concerns,” the website says.