Published in Midwest Flyer – Aug/Sept 2016
RACINE, WIS. – Members of the Wisconsin Business Aviation Association attended a town hall meeting, June 23, 2016, featuring National Business Aviation Association President and CEO Ed Bolen, and EAA President & CEO Jack Pelton. Bolen and Pelton talked specifically about the “FAA Reauthorization” debate, and why it matters to general aviation.
BOLEN: “The aviation community is a close knit group with common concerns.
“Business aviation equals economic development. You don’t find general aviation in any other part of the world, as we do in the U.S.
“Fortunately, we have elected officials who understand and appreciate general aviation, but there’s been a big push by the airlines to privatize and control the air traffic control (ATC) system. If ATC becomes a monopoly, it would mean economic power and domination by the airlines. A private board of directors controlled by the airlines and not represented by Congress, would transfer costs on to general aviation.
“The House bill introduced in February included privatization of ATC, but it hadn’t yet gone to the full floor for a vote. Privatization is a poison pill. Congress will either help us grow or kill us.”
PELTON: “The House told general aviation it would give it what it needs, but wants control and privatization of ATC. If ATC privatizes, it would be a true monopoly. (General aviation would be outnumbered on the board of directors.)
“There’s talk of selling off assets and ignoring rural communities. Rural community airports would be under-funded if ATC is privatized. The deck is purely stacked in favor of the airlines. Without oversight by elected officials, we have problems.
“Current funding is adequate to fund air traffic control. The Aviation Trust Fund is well funded.”
Both NBAA and EAA have “call to action” pages on their websites in which members can easily contact their elected officials on issues, such as privatization of the ATC system.
During a question and answer session at the conclusion of the presentations, Pelton was asked if the FAA is still charging EAA for ATC services during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, and the answer is, yes it is.
The elimination of the air traffic control (ATC) fee for EAA AirVenture Oshkosh was in the FAA Reauthorization Bill passed by the Senate, but it stalled in the House. Other avenues are being explored. In 2015, EAA paid the FAA $500,000 for ATC services. For 2016, the fee is $600,000.
When asked if NBAA supports “NextGen,” Bolen said that his organization does, but wants ADS-B to be affordable, and has concerns with privacy.
When asked about Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), Bolen said that they are a reality, but wants to know how we can shape it to be safe.