Today, the Trump Administration released additional details about its proposal to corporatize the nation’s air traffic control system. The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) is the voice of general aviation business, representing fixed base operators, on-demand air charter, aircraft maintenance and overhaul facilities, and business aircraft and fractional ownership fleet management. NATA members range in size from large companies with international presence to smaller, single-location independent operators that depend exclusively on general aviation for their livelihood.
The following can be attributed to National Air Transportation Association President Martin H. Hiller:
“It’s difficult to see how one 'Makes America Great Again' by emulating foreign air traffic control systems that are smaller and demonstrably less safe than our own. The Trump proposal introduces significant uncertainty to the world’s largest, most complex and safest air traffic control system, offering a radical solution to issues that can be addressed within the FAA’s current framework. Surprisingly, the proposal also makes little business sense, it does nothing to address the need for additional airport infrastructure investment but adds significantly to annual budget deficits and increases the costs to be borne by the non-flying public.
This is yet another Trump Administration slap at rural America. The Administration recently proposed slashing support for rural air service but now talks about maintaining rural access. What are those services and how do you maintain them? Instead, the Trump proposal indicates access for rural America will be limited to their willingness to pay whatever the airlines demand. Corporatizing air traffic control further limits the public’s ability to address issues of concern, removes transparency in ticket costs and undermines general aviation. General aviation groups will share those concerns in a joint industry letter to President Trump later today.”
On the Pace of Air Traffic Modernization
“To ensure safety, air traffic control modernization is a deliberate process and it is misleading to think privatization will change that. In fact, most current delays are attributed to airline systems, suggesting that just because something is done by the private sector does not make it necessarily better.”
On Separating FAA’s Safety and Air Traffic Control Functions
“The proposal forces the FAA to accept potentially profound changes in air traffic procedures without allowing for the scrutiny that has given us the world’s best safety record. There is no conflict of interest at the FAA, the Aviation Safety and Air Traffic organizations are already separate entities inside the agency. The Trump proposal is a step-back, to a time when effort was wasted because air traffic systems were developed without a clear understanding of total safety requirements and subsequently had to be modified or scrapped.”
On Reducing Public Accountability While Adding to Deficits
“The FAA (including air traffic) is funded almost exclusively from current aviation taxes. The Administration proposal adds to the annual budget deficit by $46 billion and increases the amount of revenue expected to be paid from the non-traveling public. The proposed scheme would make it impossible for the flying public to determine how much of the cost of their airplane ticket can be attributed to air traffic control. Worse, reducing public oversight means citizens will have no recourse for addressing concerns like noise, and system users will be at the mercy of the Secretary of Transportation to determine what’s a fair cost.”
FAA Issues Can Be Addressed Within the Agency’s Current Framework
“The Administration is correct in its call for FAA to migrate to a performance-based regulatory framework. And there is even more that can be done within the agency’s current framework, including modifying the budget rules to protect the FAA from the uncertainties created by sequesters and government shutdowns. Finally, reclaiming the hundreds of millions of dollars lost annually to the Highway Trust Fund and increasing the use of the performance-based contracting are all readily achievable steps that do not require the radical and potentially dangerous step of corporatizing air traffic control.”