WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), member of the Senate Commerce Committee and Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety and Security, released the following statement tonight after the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed the Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act (H.R. 4114), by a vote of 32-26. This legislation would reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through 2022.
“The proposal to privatize air traffic control has dangerous long-term implications on general aviation and the small airports and rural communities it serves,” Sen. Moran said. “General aviation would forever be under the threat of higher, unfair fees and costs, with no opportunity for American citizens to affect change through their elected officials.”
Sen. Moran added, “I am as frustrated as anyone with FAA bureaucracy that has caused significant delays in modernizing our air traffic control system, and I believe FAA Reauthorization this year is the right time to address these problems with specific and targeted reforms. Unfortunately, handing all authority over access to airspace, airport funding and investment, fees, charges, and tower operations to a private board with no government or consumer recourse is a misguided idea that could create more problems than it actually solves.
“There are many important reforms and policy advancements in the AIRR Act, particularly in regards to aircraft certification and pilots’ rights. But on ATC privatization, there are still too many unanswered questions that I hope to see addressed on the House floor. On the Senate side, I will make certain the concerns of Kansans are heard and look forward to a robust debate as we work to provide long-term certainty and stability for our nation’s aviation system.”
The legislation would drastically overhaul the national Air Traffic Control (ATC) system, transferring authority over the nation’s skies to a new, privatized corporation governed by a board of aviation industry stakeholders. The new entity, known as ATC Corporation, would take control in 2019 following a three-year transition period and operate beyond the reach of Congressional oversight, establishing a new cost and fee structure to finance all air traffic control operations.
With FAA funding set to expire March 31, 2016, the Senate Commerce Committee is expected to consider FAA Reauthorization legislation in the coming weeks.
General aviation is Kansas’ largest industry, generating more than $3 billion in annual exports. More than 42,000 Kansans make a living manufacturing, operating and servicing the world’s highest quality aircraft. Ever since pioneers like Clyde Cessna moved to Wichita nearly one century ago to establish what would become the “Air Capital of the World,” Kansas aviation workers have supplied three out of every four general aviation aircraft. Today, general aviation employs 1.1 million Americans nationally, spurring economic development in small towns and rural communities, and helping businesses large and small compete in the global marketplace. Largely unique to the United States, with three-quarters of all general aviation flights globally, the industry is a critical link in our national transportation system.