In early January 2016, House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee Chairman Bill Shuster introduced his FAA reauthorization bill, H.R. 4441. The legislation (which is being pushed by most large airlines) calls for the privatization of the USA’s ATC system and funds the new system through user fees.
Under the proposal, the airlines and their pilots would control the greatest number of seats on a new board created to oversee the system.
HOW DOES THIS LEGISLATION AFFECT BUSINESS AVIATION?
This type of legislation would make business aviation more expensive and less flexible.
With the airlines and their employees holding the greatest number of seats on the board, decisions over access to airports and airspace will be made in the airlines’ interest – instead of the interest of the entire public – thus threatening the ability of business aviation to fly when and where it needs to.
When other countries have adopted a similar model, the airlines are often only concerned about improving their own business interests. This leads to the airlines making determinations about where and when companies using business aviation can fly, how much it will cost to do so, which community airports will (or won’t) be given priority, and what type of payment (including user fees) will be demanded of operators.
WHAT CAN I DO?
Despite concerns about this bill from many in the aviation industry, including the NBAA, the T&I Committee voted along partisan lines to approve it and sent it to the full House for consideration.
If you believe that the public airspace belongs to the public, and should be run for all of the public’s interests, there is time to make your voice heard. Simply contact your members of Congress today about the issue, and let them know your thoughts on the matter of privatizing the ATC.