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Your Aviation Access at Risk

The commercial airlines want you back.

They want you out of your business aircraft and back flying first-class – and paying full fare. So you can once again enjoy walking through congested commercial terminals, checking bags, and flying to and from only 565 of the more than 4,000 U.S. airports currently available to you in your business jet or turboprop.

No surprise. First-class seats are the high-dollar contributors on commercial jets, and to be occupied by high rollers and executives unconcerned about ticket prices.

So if you’re not going to return voluntarily, the airlines are going to try to force you to do so by gaining control of the U.S. airspace, via the proposed not-for-profit, federally chartered corporation which would replace the Federal Aviation Administration.

That’s a major reason behind the current effort to replace the FAA and privatize the nation’s Air Traffic Control (ATC) System. President Trump has described it publicly as “ill-equipped and badly managed.” His 2018 budget proposal calls for the creation of an “independent non-governmental organization” to manage the U.S. ATC system.

The current system has worked very well for all segments of aviation – commercial, general, and business – ever since Congress enacted the Federal Aviation Act of 1956, creating the FAA and the ATC system. The biggest problem of late has been Congress’ inability to approve the FAA’s annual budget. So the FAA winds up running under a continuing appropriations bill, unable to execute any of its long range NextGen programs.

The White House didn’t come up with the idea to privatize the ATC all by itself. It had help from Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, and from Airlines for America (A4A). This entity is a quasi-trade association comprised of commercial passenger and air cargo carriers, and several major metropolitan airport councils.

The proposed ATC’s governing board would be comprised of two federal appointees; four airline representatives; one each from aerospace, the controllers union, and the pilots union; and only three General Aviation representatives.

In reality, the A4A group likely would control that board. According to Open Secrets (www.opensecrets.org), “Air Transport” was the number one industry contributor to Shuster’s 2016 reelection campaign. So it’s probable that those Congressionally appointed board members would look more kindly on investing the FAA budget in the 565 commercially served airports.

Your ability to fly between and among the other 3,500 conveniently located airports, in your own aircraft and on your own schedule, depends on a well-funded and impartial ATC system. To make sure that your Congressional contingent understands that, contact them here:  https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials

Thanks for reading – and for taking action! BAA

Gil Wolin
Gil Wolin is Publisher of Business Aviation Advisor magazine. A frequent speaker at national and regional events, Mr. Wolin is a member of the National Business Aviation Association, the Massachusetts Airport Management Association, and Business Aviation Professionals of New England. He currently serves on the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's Presidential Advisory Board. He is a past director of the National Air Transportation Association, and a past member of the Corporate Angel Network Advisory Board.

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