NBAA’s CEO Ed Bolen has said the association will remain undeterred in opposing the HR 4441 bill that aims to privatize the US air traffic control (ATC) system following a House Committee’s passage of the legislation on February 11.
The HR 4441 bill, introduced by House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, authorizes programs and funding for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The measure calls for the creation of a new, private ATC entity, removed from congressional oversight and governed by an airline-centric board.
NBAA argues that, 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 in the interest of the entire public, thereby threatening the ability of citizens and communities to access a vital transportation lifeline.
“Chairman Shuster marshaled his majority to push this bill through the committee,” Bolen said, noting that the bill was passed largely along partisan lines. According to Bolen, it was unfortunate that more targeted approaches, like those offered by the committee’s ranking member Peter DeFazio and other committee Democrats were rejected. Bolen also thanked Republicans Sam Graves and Todd Rokita for standing with the general aviation community and voting in opposition to the bill.
“We thank DeFazio and the committee Democrats, as well as Graves and Rokita, for voting against the fatally flawed privatization scheme promoted by this legislation,” Bolen said.
Although House leaders have yet to designate a timeframe for bringing the legislation before the full House for debate, Shuster has signaled his intention to do so at the earliest possible opportunity, according to Bolen. “This bill has reached a critical milestone in its journey toward becoming the law of the land,” he added. “That means it is imperative for all of us in the business aviation community to underscore our grave concerns about turning over the air traffic control system to a board dominated by the big airlines. We simply cannot trust the airlines to operate the system in a way that allows business aviation to continue to thrive. Elected officials are beginning to recognize the dangers inherent in HR 4441, but NBAA and its members need to do more.”
NBAA will continue to call upon people in the industry to make their voices heard with legislators in opposition to the measure. To do so, visit NBAA’s online Contact Congress resource.