ATC tower

In Wake of ATC Victory, Industry Leaders Stay Wary

While business and general aviation celebrate their success in the long battle against efforts to create an independent user-funded air traffic control system, leaders remain wary that the issue will never fully disappear. Following this fall’s passage of the historic five-year Federal Aviation Admnistration reauthorization bill without the controversial Air Traffic Control provision, NBAA president Ed Bolen wrote members, saying, “The entire general aviation community should be extremely proud....Through tens of thousands of letters and phone calls to Congress, the voice of general aviation was heard loud and clear on Capitol Hill, leading to this victory.”

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The bill would reimburse certain airports and businesses affected by TFRs and would call for better Part 135 incident reporting data.

However, Bolen has repeatedly called the proposal a bad idea and said that in Washington, bad ideas don’t go away. That message was brought home during the NBAA’s convention in October when keynote speaker Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-Louisiana) thanked the audience for its role in the fight but reminded attendees that while defeated for now, “It could raise its head again.”

Despite the five-year reauthorization, acting FAA Administrator Dan Elwell warned listeners at the Aero Club of Washington that the FAA still needs consistent funding—a chief argument for ATC privatization.

In fact, the FAA bill does call for a detailed analysis of ATC costs imposed and revenues received by the varying segments of airspace users—data that ostensibly could be used in future battles over user fees and ATC privatization/separation.