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ATC Privatization: A Solution Seeking a Problem?

May 23, 2017
Paul DeHerrera, CEO

Congressman Bill Shuster, Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has called on lawmakers to introduce legislation as a solution for a problem that doesn’t seem to exist. The idea is getting a bit of a tailwind from President Trump. When speaking with our customers who fly within the current Air Traffic Control (ATC) system, I have yet to hear any complaints about the way they are handled in the ATC system. Most often, we hear accolades on how well the system works, across all airports within the system.

The General Aviation Manufactures Association (GAMA) has some legitimate concerns regarding ATC privatization for very good reasons. Like many others, when I first heard the idea of privatizing the ATC system I thought, why not? The idea of privatizing anything the government does seemed like a brilliant idea. However, after thinking about it and questioning the issues GAMA and other industry associations have presented, I found myself rethinking my initial position on the subject. This idea is bad for General Aviation; it’s bad because if passed and the ATC system is privatized, it will be controlled by a board mostly made up of airline professionals. These folks will focus on where they fly – major hubs; these major hubs will certainly get attention, as will the infrastructure the airlines need to make their operations efficient. Unfortunately, the non-hub airports will get kicked to the curb in terms of funding and infrastructure, impacting smaller airports that are crucial to business aviation.

Whether or not you agree or disagree with the Electoral College in our election system, it does give small town America a voice. In the same way, a government-run ATC system provides an equal hand in servicing and funding the ATC system for all of our airports, small and large. Let’s not put it into the hands of an airline-leaning board of directors where General Aviation, Business Aviation and other users have little to no voice.

To learn more about GAMA’s stance, click here – where you can also view their letters sent to House transportation leaders and Senate transportation leaders.

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