More than 100 U.S. business leaders have written a letter to Congress with opposition to ATC privatization. According to the National Business Aviation Assn. (NBAA), which said it has “enthusiastic support” for the letter, the group of leaders is comprised of nearly all pilot-CEOs.
“These American business leaders analyze the risks and benefits of potential investment opportunities each day and, in addition, have direct knowledge of our nation’s air traffic system,” said Ed Bolen, NBAA president and CEO. “Based on their unique perspective, they have all concluded that privatizing our nation’s ATC system and turning it over to a private board represents a risk that we simply cannot take.”
The CEOs wrote one letter, but addressed it twice: one to the House of Representatives and one to the Senate. The letter argues for the safety element that the FAA brings to the current ATC system. U.S. President Donald Trump announced a White House initiative to remove the national ATC system from the FAA and turn it over to one, self-financing nonprofit organization June 5. This followed the release of the White House budget blueprint, which outlined the intent to privatize the ATC system.
“As members of the business community who depend on our nation’s ATC system, we are writing to express our opposition to turning it over to a private board,” the CEOs’ letter reads. “Instead, we are committed to improving the ATC system with targeted solutions to identified challenges, and believe that is the appropriate way to enhance our aviation system. By virtually every objective measure, the U.S. ATC system is the largest, safest, most complex and efficient in the world.”
The letter argues that because of the capability of the current system, other countries seek expertise from the U.S. and use technologies deployed and manufactured in the U.S. Like some other associations in the U.S., the CEOs letter notes a concern that privatizing the system will enable certain special interest, like commercial airlines, to gain primary control over the airspace.
“While this is a diverse group of companies, they have several important traits in common,” said Bolen. “They are located in communities of all sizes, in every state in the country and they rely on business aviation to meet some portion of their transportation challenges. Their perspective is critical in ensuring that the United States has the world’s best air transportation system that serves all Americans now and in the future.”