stalled in Congress

stalled in Congress
Privatization of Air Traffic Control is a heated issue.
Photo by Jeff Yapalater

While often referred to as privatization, opponents say this legislation would allow a board dominated by the airlines and their affiliates to run the air traffic controls system. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), senior member of the House Committee on Appropriations and chair of the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, said the organization that would run ATC “will be a monopoly run by private interests with zero oversight. There’s still no competition.” It has been agreed by many observers that the federal government does two things well: national security and air traffic control. In fact, ATC is the FAA’s best asset. According to a 2016 GAO report, the United States is considered to have the busiest, most complex, and safest ATC system in the world.

A key argument for supporting the privatization is that privatized ATC providers in Canada, the U.K.,and elsewhere have shown they can modernize and continuously upgrade faster than the Federal Aviation Administration.

This proposed legislation to transfer operation of air traffic services currently provided by the Federal Aviation Administration to a separate not-for-profit corporate entity, to reauthorize and streamline programs of the Federal Aviation Administration, and for other purposes. HR2997 legislation, which was originally introduced in 2016 under HR4441, did not move forward, and was replaced by H.R. 4, which passed the House on a bipartisan vote of 393-13. The Senate must now act to pass their own FAA bill before the current authorization expires at the end of next month.

There are several one-pagers for HR4 issued by the committee which include some of the points:

Enhancing Aviation Safety; modernizing America’s Airport Infrastructure; improving America’s Competitiveness; improving Service for Consumers; safely and Efficiently Integrating Unmanned Aircraft Systems

The Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act (H.R. 4441) was a bill introduced on February 3, 2016 in the 114th Congress (2015-2016) by Congressman Bill Shuster (R-PA) and Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ). It was replaced by HR2997 and then HR4. Among other things one of the main points of contention between supporters and non-supporters is that the bill would privatized the American Air Traffic control (ATC) system. The bill would also have reauthorized the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through 2019.

One pagers for this legislation can be found on transportation.house.gov/faa/h-r-4-faa-one-pagers.htm

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