Fate of FAA Reauthorization Uncertainty over Air Traffic Control Privatization Proposal
Lawmakers are working on legislation to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Yet the fate of that reauthorization remains up in the air, as lawmakers disagree whether the nation’s air traffic control (ATC) system should be removed from the FAA and shifted to a non-government air-traffic control entity governed by airline, airport and other stakeholders.
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) has floated the idea of pulling the nation’s ATC out of FAA previously, although draft legislation has not yet been introduced.
Part of the logic behind Shuster’s proposal is that the FAA has been slow to implement NextGen – a transition from a radio- to satellite-based navigation system – that has been in process for years at a cost of billions of dollars. Additionally, the Transportation Department’s Inspector General has released reports critical of FAA’s ATC operations in recent years.
The idea of privatizing the ATC is supported by Airlines for America and the American Association of Airport Executives, among others.
Yet the proposal faces headwinds in both the House and Senate.
A bipartisan letter from the leaders of the Senate Appropriations Committee, including Chairman Thad Cochran (R-MI), Ranking Member Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Transportation Subcommittee Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME), and Transportation Subcommittee Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-RI) stated that “these proposals have two fundamental problems: they break apart the FAA, and they diminish the ability of Congress to oversee the aviation system.”
Two House Democrats on the Transportation Committee, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (MD) also oppose the proposal, indicating change is needed but that they don’t believe a private entity would improve air traffic efficiency. Norton and Cummings joined advocacy groups to announce a new coalition, American Against Air Traffic Privatization.
House lawmakers are expected to introduce their FAA reauthorization proposal soon.
Posted in From the Hill