Tom Hendricks, president and CEO of NATA, talks about the pending legislation about of a user-fee funded ATC
What does HR 4441 mean to businesses that operate an aircraft? What impacts could it have on their ability to access the national airspace system?
The legislation creates a user fee-funded, federally chartered, not-for-profit air traffic control corporation that exempts some—but not all—segments of general aviation from user fees. For example, air charter and other commercial GA activity will be expected to pay these yet-to-be determined user fees. Those fees will be established by a Corporation Board of Directors dominated by the major airlines. A user fee-funded ATC Corporation, controlled in perpetuity by its board of industry insiders, will likely place general aviation in constant peril, impeding its access to airports and airways, starve rural America of access to cutting-edge technology, and saddle the traveling public with ever increasing fees.
Is the status quo the best way ahead?
NATA is not supportive of the status quo. We should all support the injection of more private sector practices into the FAA. Just last month the DOT Inspector General reviewed FAA's progress on NextGen. Significantly, the IG did not recommend separation of the agency's air traffic control and safety functions. It did however make several recommendations to improve FAA's management of major acquisitions to better meet the goals of its reforms. We understand the FAA concurred with its recommendations. NATA hopes the Committee will review these recommendations and provide whatever additional congressional authorities are required to affect their priority implementation.
What are some of the key dates we need to know about as constituents as the bill makes its way through Washington, and how can we join the fight against it?
Action on the bill starts this week. On February 11 the House Transportation Committee will begin consideration of the bill (a process known in D.C. as markup). NATA created a special webpage — nata.aero/nocorporation — that contains additional details about the proposal and easy steps you can take to contact your elected representatives in opposition to this proposal. We hope all members of the aviation business community will join us and our colleagues in the general aviation community as we fight this proposal.