By Mark Spencer
URGENT!!! Representative Shuster is pushing for a vote on H.R. 2997 next week! This would only be the case if he believed that he has the votes to pass this bill.
We must encourage the GA community to reach out again, and fast!
The bottom line is that the so-called privatization of such an important part of our public transportation, our air traffic control system, is a solution looking for a problem that does not in fact exist. Our ATC works very well, and contrary to airline claims, there are almost never delays due to ATC. In fact the overwhelming majority of delays are due to weather, and the airlines’ own mismanagement. The potential down side of this bill could be the most devastating blow GA has ever been dealt, period! You must take action by contacting your legislators now! NBAA has an incredibly easy site to help you do just that: Click Here or if you prefer, take action at AOPA's site Click Here.
While "privatization" sounds good, our contention is that this is not in fact privatization at all, in the sense that most would understand the term. There is no competition and no profit motive for the non-profit corporation created under the bill. In other words, no free enterprise system of checks and balances would exist, only the motives of the majority of the 13 member board would drive the direction and customer service aspects of this so-called privatization. Make no mistake, any way you slice it, the airlines would easily have the majority position as it is spelled out in the current bill. What the bill creates is a monopoly, a new layer of administration by a board that does not answer to congress or any elected official, or any of its customers, the public! Airline bottom lines will rule this board. Supporters say GA will have a voice, but 1, or 2 seats if you count private business aviation, out of 13 leaves you in a tiny minority on this board! Perhaps as concerning is that there is also no way to reverse this train, should unintended consequences mount and our air transportation system and GA be seriously harmed by this scheme.
GA supports modernization, but not the handing over of our ATC system to the airlines. There are just too many potential unintended consequences, one of which I described to you in APA's newsletter last month as Foreflight founder Tyson Weihs told his story of their failed attempt to work with the Canadian privatized system to develop this now game changing technology. Foreflight has become one of the greatest modernization mechanisms in aviation history, allowing any pilot to have as much or more information in his or her cockpit as any airliner, a capability that was not able to come to fruition under the Canadian privatized system. It took the U.S. system, and its readily available public domain information to birth this technology. When asked who would own the currently public domain data under this bill, it's author and supporters stated that they had not thought of that. What else have they not thought of?
Our airspace is public, and it needs to remain in close control of our our elected government. Is our system messy at times? Certainly, but it has produced the safest, busiest and most accessible air transport system in the world! This is not a system to experiment with.
The APA, EAA, AOPA, NBAA, RAF, and GAMA are only a few of the 170 aviation organizations that stand against privatization language in this bill. Meanwhile, a cursory look at the supporters of privatization will reveal that the majority of supporters have no direct understanding of aviation and especially ATC. You can view the full list here. Tell me, what do these sort of organization know about ATC? We believe they are being duped by the buzz word "privatization" with little to no knowledge of the real issues.