Business Aviation Saying No Privatized ATC
06.28.17 · Ashley Bowen Cook
There are many things I love about business aviation. The ferocity of our tribe is one. Come at us, and we circle the wagons. A big attack is bearing down upon us: the proposed privatization of our country’s air traffic control (ATC) system.
And the business aviation community is preparing for the fight. And has been for some time. At a town hall meeting in Washington, D.C. last year, Cessna Aircraft Chairman Emeritus Russ Meyer was among the who’s who of aviation in attendance. He called ATC privatization the most significant threat to general aviation’s future that he has seen. And he’s been in aviation for four decades.
Experimental Aircraft Association CEO Jack Pelton agreed and encouraged the Kansas Congressional delegation to continue working against privatization. It has. U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran came to Wichita Eisenhower National Airport last week. Greteman Group colleague Deanna Harms and I were among those attending the June 23 press conference and tour of Wichita Eisenhower National Airport.
Smart Solutions Needed, But Privatization Isn’t One
Let’s be clear. The ATC needs modernizing. No one disputes that. But that work is underway. Privatization efforts, in fact, could significantly slow down the efforts to build a much-needed NextGen aviation system. A commonsense approach is needed. One that strengthens our air transportation system rather than causing more problems than it solves.
The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and most of general aviation believe privatization would be bad for business. My colleagues, peers and I also do not think it is in the public’s interest to simply giveaway ATC control to a group of private parties that would have little accountability to Congress.
“I am one of many who believe this is terribly damaging to all but the largest airports and the largest communities in the country,” Sen. Moran said.
The Air Capital could receive a real body blow. No doubt resources will be directed away from general aviation and smaller communities like Wichita. ATC privatization could increase flight costs for smaller aircraft and the ability to use air space nationwide could be jeopardized. The wallop to general aviation would likely shrivel up our nation’s primary source of new pilots, which is the opposite of what we want and need. The pool is shrinking already. Let’s add to it, not detract.
“General aviation creates a natural pipeline for pilots transitioning to business and commercial aviation,” said Executive AirShare CEO Keith Plumb. “ATC privatization would dry up that irreplaceable source of high-caliber, focused, young adults beginning their aviation careers.”
Let’s Learn from Others Hurt by ATC Privatization
Director of Airports Victor White spoke at the press conference, too, and noted that in other parts of the world where privatization has taken place, general aviation has practically disappeared.
Mid-Continent Instruments + Avionics CEO Todd Winter has witnessed the results firsthand. He said, “I have seen the effects of similar efforts on my international customers and the European business aviation community. The impact has been devastating and has all but eliminated private and business aviation.”
Time Is Running Out, Please Act
Vote on the bill, H.R. 2997, is expected by mid-July. Congress should say no to ATC privatization and yes to reauthorizing ATC within the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). We’ve reached out to our members of Congress, and ask that all concerned U.S. citizens do the same. Here’s a quick link: https://www.nbaa.org/advocacy/contact/
If you want to join the fight on Twitter, be sure to use the hashtag #NoPrivatizedATC. Quite a debate’s underway. Let’s ensure our voices are heard. And prevail.