The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) has welcomed a bipartisan letter from Senate Appropriations Committee leaders opposing plans to create a privatized air traffic control system in the USA. The letter was sent on Tuesday, February 28 to the Senate Commerce Committee chairman John Thune and ranking member Bill Nelson, signed by Appropriations Committee chairman Thad Cochran and vice chairman Patrick Leahy, as well as subcommittee chairman Susan Collins and ranking member Jack Reed.
It comes as Congress continues to debate the reauthorization of funding and programs for the Federal Aviation Association (FAA), which the Senate Commerce Committee oversees legislation for, and which currently operates the country’s air traffic control systems. There is a proposal for privatizing the system, governing it with an airline-center board of directors, and funding it through user fees. A number of parties, including the NBAA, are opposed to the idea. The full letter can be read here.
It states, “The public would not be well-served by exempting any part of the FAA from annual congressional oversight. The annual appropriations process provides the oversight of agency resources necessary to ensure accountability for program performance and a sustained focus on aviation safety. Annual oversight also ensures that the FAA maintains a system that works throughout the aviation industry, including for general aviation, small and rural communities, commercial airlines, and large metropolitan cities.”
Ed Bolen, president and CEO, NBAA, added, “We thank the Appropriations Committee leaders for sending this letter, which provides an important reminder about the need for congressional oversight of aviation-system decision making. America’s system of airports and airspace serves the public interest, including the people, businesses and communities that rely on general aviation. Congressional oversight ensures that the entire public has access to aviation.”