ATC privatization has been removed from an FAA reauthorization bill in the House of Representatives, scoring a victory for general aviation against a powerful, well-financed lobby that sought to give control of the national air traffic system to the country's largest airlines.
Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pennsylvania) announced Tuesday evening that he is removing ATC privatization from H.R. 2997 and moving toward an FAA reauthorization bill that can pass both houses in Congress. Shuster, who is retiring after this year's election, had attempted to garner enough votes to bring the privatization plan to the full House on several occasions over the past year.
"This is a tribute to all of you in general aviation who took the time to make yourself heard," said EAA CEO/Chairman Jack J. Pelton. "Thanks to the unified fight by the GA community, this bill was not going to pass with ATC privatization as part of it. We can now move ahead with what we have maintained all along - modernization, not privatization. We can fund the FAA long-term and let the agency continue with its already progressing modernization efforts.
"I want to thank every one of the grassroots aviators who took time to call, write, and visit their congressional representatives, and express the far-reaching negative impacts that ATC privatization would have on the world's busiest, most complex, and safest air traffic system."
EAA was among the groups who warned of the privatization threat, a coalition that grew to include more than 200 aviation associations, plus consumer advocates, mayors from throughout the country, and even some conservative groups. The government's own nonpartisan review agencies also panned the ATC privatization concept, noting it would add nearly $100 billion to the federal deficit, slow modernization of the air traffic system, and threaten national security.
"This was, as we've said all along, a bad solution to a nonexistent problem," Pelton said. "Now let us join together to do the real work on behalf of aviation. We seek congressional passage of a bill that will maintain equal access to skies and eliminates the threat of user fees, aviation event fees, and other burdens that inhibit the future of general aviation."