by Dave Weiman
Published in Midwest Flyer – April/May 2018 issue
WASHINGTON, DC – No sooner than pilots and other concerned individuals contacted their U.S. Congressmen to oppose H.R. 2997, which was intended to reintroduce privatizing the air traffic control system, it was announced February 27, 2018 that House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) would forgo continued debate over his controversial ATC reform proposal. Rep. Shuster stated:
“Many, including myself, continue to believe that the air traffic control provisions of the 21st Century AIRR Act are good government reforms, and necessary for the future efficiency, effectiveness, and safety of our entire Nation’s aviation system and its users.
“We built strong support for this critical reform over the last two congresses, and we had a golden opportunity to move beyond the status quo and accomplish positive, transformational change with this bill.
“Despite an unprecedented level of support for this legislation – from bipartisan lawmakers, industry, and conservative groups and labor groups alike – some of my own colleagues refused to support shrinking the federal government by 35,000 employees, cutting taxes, and stopping wasteful spending.
“Although our air traffic control reform provisions did not reach the obvious level of support needed to pass Congress, I intend to work with Senator Thune and move forward with a reauthorization bill to provide long-term stability for the FAA.”
The reaction from industry organizations to the news that H.R. 2997 was dead, has been extremely positive, with the presidents of each organization expressing their appreciation to their members for contacting their congressman to oppose the legislation. Each president has indicated a desire to work with Chairman Shuster and other leaders in Congress on a bill that improves aviation for every American – a long-term reauthorization bill, which will help modernize the air traffic control system, which is already underway.
“This is what advocacy is all about,” said AOPA President & CEO Mark Baker. “AOPA and other groups identified the threat this bill posed for GA and with great support from AOPA members, we worked every angle on Capitol Hill, through the media, and with other organizations outside of aviation who would also be negatively impacted. The coalition and excellent strategy paid off and kept this bill from reaching the House floor.
“Now we can focus that energy on continuing to improve the excellent air traffic system we already have and in bringing other improvements to the FAA. Meanwhile, we will remain ever vigilant for future efforts that will be disruptive to general aviation because the general aviation we enjoy in this country is unique in the world and is worth protecting.”
AOPA, along with hundreds of other aviation groups and organizations across the political spectrum, opposed the legislation. AOPA members alone contacted their representatives in Congress more than 200,000 times asking them to oppose the bill.