The House of Representatives will vote on a bill, H.R. 2997, that could determine the future of the Federal Aviation Administration’s role in aviation, particularly when operating the air traffic control system for the United States. H.R. 2997 would have the Secretary of Transportation manage the air traffic control services instead, starting on October 1, 2020. The vote will occur on Wednesday, September 13, 2017.
Ed Scott, the United States Parachute Association (USPA) Executive Director, opposes H.R. 2997. Scott who said the bill could determine “the future of skydiving” and aviation in general, issued a letter dated Friday, September 8, 2017, to encourage skydivers to vote against the bill.
“We need every skydiver to call your Representative to state your opposition to the ATC privatization provision in HR 2997,” Scott stated. “Those who propose to strip the Federal Aviation Administration of its air traffic control function and hand it to a new private corporation controlled by the airlines are pushing for a house vote next Wednesday.”
According to Scott, airlines are spending money to pass the bill, but other groups along with the USPA are fighting the bill. “The airlines are spending millions on ads and lobbyists to get the bill through. USPA and more than 150 other general aviation groups are fighting back just as hard,” Scott said. “The new corporation would be controlled by the airline’s interests.”
Adam Brandon, the president of FreedomWorks is in favor of H.R. 2997. In his own electronic letter, he urged people to vote yes on the bill.
“The bill would reauthorize, reform, and modernize the Federal Aviation Administration,” Brandon said. “The bill would also bring important and worthy reforms to the FAA, including the modernization of the air traffic control (ATC) system.”
According to Brandon, the United States has not been successful in air traffic control. “Part of the Reauthorization Act of 2003, the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) was supposed to modernize the FAA’s air traffic control system and make it more efficient,” Brandon said. “Instead, what the country has seen is implementation programs, delays, and higher costs.”
“One of the most prominent points of reform is that it would take the ATC, which guides airplanes from destination to destination, out of federal hands and transform it into a non-profit corporation,” Brandon said. He also said the air traffic control system uses old technology that has not been updated in decades. “The previous attempt to reform the nation’s ATC system may take 10 years longer to implement and that costs may reach $120 billion, substantially higher than originally estimated.”
According to FreedomWorks’ website, the organization is “over 6 million Americans who are passionate about promoting free markets and individual liberty. Our members all share three common traits: a desire for less government, lower taxes, and more economic freedom.”
The bill states that H.R. 2997 will allow the FAA to continue to operate until 2020. The bill states, “After the proposed transition of all air traffic control-related personnel and programs to the AANS Corporation, the bill would authorize additional appropriations for FAA and the Department of Transportation (DOT) to continue to meet traditional aviation-related responsibilities, such as performing certain regulatory and safety-related activities, making grants to airports to support capital projects, and subsidizing air service to certain rural communities.”