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CONGRESS PASSES FAA FUNDING EXTENSION

AOPA

Both the House and Senate have passed a six-month FAA funding extension. The legislation, which does not contain language to remove air traffic control from the FAA, heads to President Donald Trump for his signature just days before the Sept. 30 funding deadline.

The U.S. Capitol Dome is home to the U.S. Congress and its House and Senate governing bodies, two of the many government agencies that have influence over general aviation. iStock photo.

The U.S. Capitol Dome is home to the U.S. Congress and its House and Senate governing bodies, two of the many government agencies that have influence over general aviation. iStock photo.

The extension originally passed by the House contained flood insurance provisions, which were removed by the Senate over bipartisan opposition. The Senate amended the bill and sent it back to the House, where it also passed.

“We applaud the House and Senate for passing this needed legislation,” said AOPA President and CEO Mark Baker.

Supporters of so-called ATC privatization plan another push for a House vote on the legislation in October.

“AOPA will continue mobilizing pilots and working with elected officials to ensure we don’t give away our skies to the airlines and instead focus on continuing efforts to modernize air traffic control,” Baker said.

More than 40,000 aircraft now equipped with ADS-B

General Aviation News

More than 40,000 aircraft now equipped with ADS-B

As of Sept, 1, 2017, rule-compliant Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) equipment is now on board more than 40,000 aircraft flying in the United States.

The FAA estimates that 100,000 to 160,000 general aviation aircraft will need to be equipped with ADS-B Out before the Jan. 1, 2020, mandate. The FAA is also offering a $500 rebate to offset an owner’s cost on an eligible aircraft until midnight Sept. 18, 2017.

“We’re now just over two years out from the FAA compliance deadline,” said General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) President and CEO Pete Bunce. “As we move forward, knowing that date will not change, it is essential that those operators who haven’t yet make a plan for equipage to avoid having their aircraft grounded and losing its residual value.”

Since the FAA announced the mandate, general aviation manufacturers have worked hard to design, develop, certify and make available ADS-B products that enhance safety at a reasonable cost, GAMA officials said.

Some solutions for light general aviation aircraft are available for a range from $1,200 to $4,000, each providing safety benefits when presented on an ADS-B IN capable display.

“By choosing to equip now, operators are investing in their safety and ensuring they meet the 2020 deadline before installation lines grow long,” added Bunce. “We are very pleased with the continuous growth in equipage, and manufacturers will continue working with the FAA and operators to facilitate equipage as the deadline approaches.”

Webinar – Beyond the Weather Brief – Quick Steps to Improving Weather Certainty – FAASafety.gov

FAA Safety Team | Safer Skies Through Education
“Beyond the Weather Brief – Quick Steps to Improving Weather Certainty”

Topic: Using weather detection tools to improve certainty and safety in your briefing.
On Wednesday, July 19, 2017 at 19:30 EDT
Select Number:
WP0177191

Description:

The world of weather briefings is changing!  How do you make sense of conflicting information on a weather brief: There’s an AIRMET for IFR but numerous products disagree. Which one is right?  There’s a few forecasts for Gusts to 40 knots, but no AIRMET or CWA. How do you validate that?

In this 60 minute webinar followed by a Q&A, Delia Colvin, aviation weather expert, will show you effective ways to gain certainty and safety while evaluating the information. You’ll also become familiar with some fantastic new tools.

Click here to register today

To view further details and registration information for this webinar, click here.

The sponsor for this seminar is: FAASTeam

The following credit(s) are available for the WINGS/AMT Programs:

Basic Knowledge 3 – 1 Credit
Advanced Knowledge 1 – 1 Credit

Click here to view the WINGS help page

House Votes to Turn Traffic Control System over to the Airlines

AOPA

While legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives to turn the U.S. air traffic control system over to the airlines was passed by committee June 27, AOPA continued to voice opposition to the legislation that would be detrimental to general aviation.

The Capitol is home to the U.S. Congress and its House and Senate governing bodies, two of the many government agencies that have influence over general aviation. Photo by David Tulis.

The Capitol is home to the U.S. Congress and its House and Senate governing bodies, two of the many government agencies that have influence over general aviation. Photo by David Tulis.

The bill, the 21st Century AIRR Act (H.R. 2997), was approved by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee with a 32-25 vote and will now be considered for a vote on the floor of the House.

The legislation is sponsored by Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.), U.S. Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), Aviation Subcommittee Vice Chair Paul Mitchell (R-Mich.), U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii), and U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.).

In 2016, Shuster proposed a similar bill, which also was approved by the committee but failed to reach the floor of the House.

Shuster said the legislation “puts the American taxpayers, innovation, jobs, and the traveling public before Washington dysfunction.”

AOPA and five other general aviation associations released a joint statement June 21 opposing privatization and the AIRR Act.

Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.), a pilot and the lone Republican who voted against the bill, called it “fundamentally flawed.”

Graves, co-chair of the House General Aviation Caucus, joined Rokita in opposing privatization in 2016 but voted for the AIRR Act.

The legislation did not receive the votes of any Democrats.

AOPA President and CEO Mark Baker said, “American aviation is the envy of the world and general aviation is united in opposition to privatization and what it would do.”

“We support modernization not privatization, and in the next 24 hours we’ll be asking our almost 350,000 members to write their representatives in the House and join us in opposing the AIRR Act,” said Baker.

The Senate also has proposed an FAA funding bill that does not include privatizing air traffic control, and the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee is expected to debate amendments June 29. AOPA has announced support of the Senate FAA legislation.

According to a recent survey, a majority of Americans believe the proposal is a “bad idea.”

Democrats introduce legislation to stabilize FAA funding

General Aviation News

Democrats are rejecting President Trump’s plans to privatize America’s air traffic control system, instead introducing legislation to stabilize FAA funding.

Rep. Rick Larsen (Washington), the top-ranking Democrat on the House Aviation Subcommittee, joined by Rep. Peter DeFazio (Oregon) and other Democrats on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, introduced H.R. 2800, the Aviation Funding Stability Act of 2017, on June 7, 2017.

The proposed legislation aims to strengthen and speed up the reforms taking place at the FAA and its air traffic control system through the NextGen initiative.

“This bill meaningfully complements NextGen’s progress,” said Larsen. “By providing certainty to the FAA’s funding streams and boosting reforms to the FAA’s personnel and procurement systems, this bill presents an opportunity to accelerate modernization of the FAA, which is something I think folks on both sides of the aisle can get behind.”

“If we truly want to fix the real problems facing the FAA today, the solution is simple: Congress can and should pass targeted reforms. Today, Democrats on the Transportation Committee offered targeted measures that guarantee that investments in our aviation system are not subject to Congressional dysfunction,” said DeFazio. “Our alternative provides a stable, predictable funding stream for aviation programs; directs the FAA to run modernization programs using streamlined best practices; requires the FAA to reform its personnel system; gives users a bigger role in managing the aviation system through the FAA’s Management Advisory Council; and authorizes funding to rebuild and modernize aging air traffic control facilities. Targeted reforms can achieve our common objectives without jeopardizing our nation’s outstanding aviation safety record. I urge my Republican colleagues to reject ATC privatization, and support our proposal for real, achievable modernization and reform.”

The Aviation Funding Stability Act of 2017 would help ensure investments in the U.S. aviation system are not subject to Congressional dysfunction and would streamline the acquisition of NextGen technology, equipment certification, and ATC management, lawmakers noted.

Key provisions include:

  • Provide the FAA with mandatory spending authority in order to maintain stable, predictable FAA funding.
  • Ensure that revenues collected from flying passengers (i.e. ticket taxes) are invested in the aviation system. Beginning Oct. 1, Trust Fund revenues and uncommitted cash balance are immediately available to be invested in the aviation system. These funds are not subject to appropriation, budget sequestration, or any directive of the Office of Management and Budget – the funds are off budget. In addition, the bill authorizes such sums as necessary from the General Fund for FAA Operations to address any possible shortfall in Trust Fund revenues, and it exempts any General Fund share from sequestration.
  • Require top-to-bottom reforms of the FAA’s personnel and procurement systems. In 1995 and 1996, Congress exempted the FAA from government-wide personnel and procurement rules. But the Department of Transportation Inspector General has often reported that the FAA has not taken full advantage of these reforms, leading to delays and cost overruns in modernization programs and low workforce productivity. The bill requires the FAA to develop a streamlined procurement system that is up to the task of governing high-tech, high-value acquisitions in NextGen technology. It also requires the FAA to update its personnel management system to provide incentives for good performance, among other things. With these reforms, the FAA will be able to institute personnel and procurement reform.
  • Elevate the role of the FAA Management Advisory Council (MAC), a government-industry panel that advises the FAA administrator on strategic issues facing the FAA. The bill requires the administrator to respond in writing to each recommendation of the MAC with respect to management of the air traffic control system within 90 days of receipt. If the administrator disagrees with the recommendation, the administrator must explain his or her rationale. If the administrator agrees with the recommendation, the response must include a timeline for implementation.
  • Removes bureaucratic barriers within the FAA. The bill directs the agency to cross-utilize staff across disciplines wherever feasible and to break down internal silos so employees can freely share ideas, and so that offices can better collaborate and coordinate with one another in managing complex tasks like certifying new airliner designs and running the air traffic control system.
  • Authorize funds to rebuild and modernize aging air traffic control facilities across the United States. The bill authorizes the FAA to use the uncommitted balance of the Airport and Airway Trust Fund to rebuild, modernize, and sustain air traffic control facilities.

President Trump recently announced a plan that would privatize ATC, leave the FAA’s critical safety oversight processes without a funding source, and jeopardize aviation safety by subjecting the remaining FAA to Congressional shutdowns, budget cuts, and sequestration.

Under the Trump plan, a private corporation would have the power to tax the flying public to pay for the ATC system without Congressional oversight or judicial review. The Trump plan severely limits current public participation requirements regarding aircraft noise when adjusting airspace routes over homes across the United States, Democratic lawmakers say.

$35.4M in Improvements Coming to 11 NC Airports

Abbie Bennett: Aviation Pros

Improvements are on the way for 11 North Carolina airports following approval of $35.4 million in state funding for aviation projects by the N.C. Board of Transportation.

Along with enhancing safety, the planned upgrades will support and help generate more economic activity and tourism for the state, according to a news release from the N.C. Department of Transportation on Monday.

“Airports are a critical part of North Carolina’s transportation system,” said N.C. Department of Transportation’s Division of Aviation Director Bobby Walston. “Completing these projects will increase the safety of these facilities while also maintaining the link these airports provide our state to the national and global economies.”

Projects and estimated costs include:

Albert J. Ellis (Jacksonville) Airport: lighting, signage and electrical vault replacement — $1,400,000

Billy Mitchell (Hatteras) Airport: repaving — $1,200,000

Coastal Carolina (New Bern) Airport: runway repaving — $3,000,000

Duplin County Airport: runway widening and improved lighting — $4,000,000

First Flight (Kill Devil Hills) Airport: repaving — $1,000,000

Kinston Regional Airport: runway and taxiway repaving — $8,000,000

Laurinburg Maxton Airport: taxiway repaving — $2,000,000

Ocracoke Island Airport: repaving — $1,200,000

Rockingham-Shiloh Airport: runway repaving — $3,600,000

Statesville Airport: taxiway parallel construction — $8,000,000

Tarboro-Edgecombe County Airport: runway repaving, updating airfield lighting and repairing damage caused by Hurricane Matthew — $2,000,000

Statewide airport data from 2016 shows aviation contributed more than $31 billion in annual economic impact to the North Carolina economy, including 123,400 airport-related jobs.

With the exception of the Albert J. Ellis Airport project, which will be funded 90 percent by the state and 10 percent locally, each of these safety projects are completely state-funded, according to DOT. The funds being used are allocated for safety, operations and maintenance.

Fairness for Pilots Act introduced

General Aviation News

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) has introduced S. 755, the Fairness for Pilots Act, which broadens protections for general aviation pilots provided by Inhofe’s Pilot’s Bill of Rights, which was signed into law in 2012.

Senator James Inhofe

A staunch advocate of GA, Inhofe is a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation; a member of the Senate General Aviation Caucus; and a CFI with more than 11,000 hours.

“The Pilot’s Bill of Rights and the implementation of third class medical reform have been great victories for the general aviation community, addressing the concerns brought to my attention by pilots across the country,” Inhofe said.

But he says there “remains more work to be done.”

“Building on my past efforts, the Fairness for Pilots Act increases due process protections for pilots, ensures greater transparency in dealing with FAA, and reduces the unnecessary bureaucratic barriers preventing pilots from flying,” he said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate and the general aviation community to get this bill through Congress and enacted into law.”

The senator flying one of his planes.

THE FAIRNESS FOR PILOTS ACT

  • Enhances the due process rights established in the first Pilot’s Bill of Rights by ensuring airman have the right to appeal an FAA decision through a new, merit-based trial in federal court.
  • Increases transparency for pilots subject to an investigation or enforcement action by requiring the FAA to articulate the specific activity under investigation to parties involved in the investigation and provide specific documentation relevant to its investigation.
  • Expedites updates to the Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) Improvement Program required in the first Pilot’s Bill of Rights and directs the FAA to include the effective duration of temporary flight restrictions in NOTAMs. This ensures the most relevant and important information reaches the pilot prior to a flight taking place. The legislation also mandates that the FAA certify the accuracy of posted NOTAMs.
  • Ensures the accessibility of flight data, such as air traffic communication tapes and radar information produced by contract towers, and flight service stations and controller training programs, which gives airmen the ability to use this information to defend themselves during an enforcement action proceeding.

Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) President Mark Baker said the association supports the Fairness for Pilots Act. He added he “urges the Senate to approve this important legislation, which will expand on Sen. Inhofe’s original Pilot’s Bill of Rights and provide additional protections so we can continue to enjoy the freedom to fly.”

“We greatly appreciate Senator Inhofe’s efforts on behalf of general aviation pilots with the introduction of the Fairness for Pilots Act,” said Jack J. Pelton, chairman and CEO of the Experimental Aircraft Association. “Today, more than ever, it’s essential to recognize and preserve the rights of individuals who seek to pursue the freedom of flight. This legislation is an excellent step in that direction”

“We commend Senator Inhofe for advancing this important legislation,” said Ed Bolen, president and CEO of the National Business Aviation Association. “The reforms contained in the bill will promote fairness, while reducing costs and helping preserve and foster general aviation in America. The Senator has long been a true champion for the industry, and we applaud his continuing work to support its priorities.”

DEMONSTRATING COMPLIANCE WITH BASICMED

AOPA Pilot Protection – Jared Allen

As the May 1 effective date for the FAA’s BasicMed regulations (14 CFR Part 68) approaches, it is a good time to review the eligibility requirements for BasicMed that require certain documentation to demonstrate compliance. Pilots must carry some of these documents while operating under the new rules, while others are required to be kept with the pilot’s logbook or in an electronic format.

 To operate under BasicMed, a pilot must meet the requirements of 14 CFR 61.23(c)(3) (as amended in the final rule), one of which is that the pilot possess a valid U.S. driver’s license and complies with all medical requirements or restrictions associated with that license. In the final rule, the FAA interpreted “valid driver’s license” to mean “a current and valid U.S. driver’s license” that is issued by a state, territory, or possession of the United States. Pilots are required to have the driver’s license in their personal possession when operating under BasicMed.

Another eligibility requirement set forth in amended 14 CFR 61.23 requires the pilot to have held a regular or special issuance medical any time on or after July 15, 2006. Pilots who meet this requirement by way of a medical certificate1 that is now lapsed or expired will not be required to carry or possess the expired medical certificate while operating under BasicMed. Furthermore, the new rules do not require the expired medical certificate to be retained with the pilot’s logbook. Nevertheless, it may be helpful to retain the expired medical for your own records.

The first of two documents that must be stored electronically or with the logbook of pilots qualified to fly under BasicMed is the Comprehensive Medical Examination Checklist, which is completed by the airman and the state-licensed physician who conducts the examination. Part 68 requires that prior to operating under BasicMed, and then at least every 48 months, the pilot receive a medical examination from a state-licensed physician in accordance with a checklist that will be made available by the FAA.
Under the federal law implemented by these new rules, the checklist is required to contain many of the same questions as the current application for an airman medical certificate. However, once the checklist is completed it is not required to be sent to the FAA or be carried with the pilot. Rather, it must be retained with the pilot’s logbook or in any electronic format, as long as it can be made available upon FAA request.

The same requirements also apply to the second document, known as a “certificate of completion” for the online medical education course that pilots must complete prior to operating under BasicMed, and then at least every 24 calendar months. The online medical education course educates pilots on issues such as medical self-assessments, medication, and fitness to fly. Once the course is completed, the pilot will provide limited information that will be sent to the FAA such as the name, address, and phone number of the airman and the physician who conducted the medical examination, state medical license number, and date of exam. Airmen also will provide certifications as to their fitness to fly, and an authorization for a National Driver Register check.

Once the medical education course is completed, the pilot will be provided with a certificate of completion in a PDF, which must then be printed and kept with the pilot’s logbook or stored in an electronic format, and made available upon FAA request. AOPA is currently working with the FAA to obtain approval for its online medical education course.

BasicMed regulations do not change the existing requirements of 14 CFR 61.3, which mandate that airmen have their pilot certificate and appropriate photo identification in their physical possession or readily accessible in the aircraft when exercising the privileges of their certificate. The FAA has noted that an official passport, which some pilots use to comply with the regulation’s photo identification requirement, will not satisfy the BasicMed requirement to carry a valid U.S. driver’s license, as discussed above.

To review all of the requirements of BasicMed, pilots are encouraged to review the final rule as well as Advisory Circular AC 68-1, Alternative Pilot Physical Examination and Education Requirements. Additional resources, including a comprehensive FAQ, are available at AOPA’s “Fit to Fly” resources page.

1 The pilot’s most recent medical certificate can be a regular or special issuance medical certificate and can be expired, but it must not have been suspended or revoked, or in the case of an authorization for special issuance, it must not have been withdrawn.  Likewise, the pilot’s most recent medical application must not have been completed and then withdrawn or denied.

 

Fly Safe: Prevent Loss of Control Accidents

Fly Safe: Prevent Loss of Control Accidents

March 30– The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and General Aviation (GA) community’s national #FlySafe campaign aims to educate GA pilots on the best practices to calculate and predict aircraft performance and to operate within established aircraft limitations.

 Message from FAA Administrator Michael P. Huerta:
The FAA and industry are working together to prevent Loss of Control (LOC) accidents and save lives. You can help make a difference by joining our #FlySafe campaign. Each month on FAA.gov, we provide pilots with a Loss of Control solution developed by a team of experts. They have studied the data and developed solutions – some of which are already reducing risk. We hope you will join us in this effort and spread the word. Follow #FlySafe on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. I know that we can reduce these accidents by working together as a community.

 What is Loss of Control?
An LOC accident involves an unintended departure of an aircraft from controlled flight. LOC can happen because the aircraft enters a flight regime that is outside its normal flight envelope and may quickly develop into a stall or spin. It can introduce an element of surprise for the pilot.

  Maneuvering Flight: Low-Level Safety
This month we’re focused on how to maintain safety during the maneuvering phase of flight: during take-off, landing, and while you are maneuvering in the traffic pattern. Other examples of maneuvering flight include aerobatics formation flight, turns around a point, and aerial application.

 Did You Know:

  • Maneuvering flight accidents can result in fatalities, serious injuries lost wages, severe damage to the aircraft, insurance claims, and lawsuits.
  • More than 25 percent of general aviation fatal accidents occur during these flightsbelow 1000 feet Above Ground Level (AGL).
  • Most of these accidents involve stall/spin scenarios and buzzing attempts.
  • Many occur before you’ve left the traffic pattern.


Relative Wind and Angle of Attack

Pilots learn during flight training that the relative wind is opposite the direction of flight.

  • Any discussion of relative wind should include Angle of Attack (AoA), the angle between the chord line of the wing and the relative wind.
  • When the aircraft exceeds its critical angle of attack, it will stall in nose-up and nose-down flight attitudes.

Training and technology are available to help pilots avoid exceeding the critical AoA. An AoA indicator warns when you are about to exceed a wing’s lift capacity. Consider adding one to your safety toolkit!

 Stalls/Spins
A pilot can stall at any flight attitude and airspeed. However, most fatal stall/spin accidents occur at low altitudes, when recovery is unlikely.

  • Stay safe by practicing stalls, or approaches to stalls, at a safe altitude with an experienced instructor.
  • Remember that turns, either vertical or horizontal, load the wings and increase the stall speed dramatically.
  • Be aware of how stall/spins happen and how you can get out of them.

Traffic Pattern Rules
In the pattern, you’re flying at low altitudes, low airspeeds and high angles of attack. Know your aircraft’s limitations and remember these simple rules:

  • Base to final: “Cheating” on the turn after overshooting final is very dangerous. Keep a normal turn going. If the approach is not salvageable once you roll out, go around!
  • Stabilized approach: Airline crews stop maneuvering 1,000 feet above when on approach for landing. For lighter aircraft, 500 feet could be the maneuvering “hard deck.” This means the flight is on airspeed, at the right altitude, with the appropriate descent rate and aligned with the runway. Not stable on approach? Go around!
  • Before-landing checklist: Complete your checklist, with the possible exceptions of landing flaps and props full forward before turning base. If you are interrupted, run the checklist again. It’s better to take your time than to miss an important item. Don’t have time? Go around!

Target Fixation
Each pilot has practiced turns around a point to build skill in wind compensation, aircraft ground track control, orientation, and division of attention.

However, you will increase your risk for stalls if you do this maneuver while close to the ground. They are called “moose stalls” in Alaska and “coyote stalls” in Arizona because the pilot is focused more on the target point than flying the aircraft. Bottom line: focus on your flying, and not an object outside of the cockpit!

Formation Flying

It’s critical that you know the skills of the pilot next to you. A miscommunication or lack of skill can be deadly. Practice, practice, practice before attempting this type of maneuver.

 Buzzing

Buzzing over your friend’s house to show off your plane or flying skills is NEVER a good idea. It’s reckless, and could lead to a violent AoA stall. Buzzing accidents account for many maneuvering accidents and are preventable. No amount of skill will allow recovery from a spin below 1000 feet. Be safe and don’t do a buzzing stunt!

 Canyon Flying

Experienced mountain pilots are trained to fly in canyon conditions, are familiar with the terrain, and make sure they always have an out. Following a river at low altitude, with terrain on either side, can turn into a dangerous situation. Surprises can be around the next bend including wires, hills, or another aircraft. If your aircraft is not capable of making a 180-degree turn in the confines of the canyon, don’t go there. Do not fly below canyon rims!

More about Loss of Control

 Contributing factors may include:

  • Poor judgment or aeronautical decision making
  • Failure to recognize an aerodynamic stall or spin and execute corrective action
  • Intentional failure to comply with regulations
  • Failure to maintain airspeed
  • Failure to follow procedure
  • Pilot inexperience and proficiency
  • Use of prohibited or over-the-counter drugs, illegal drugs, or alcohol

Did you know?

  • In 2015, 384 people died in 238 general aviation accidents.
  • Loss of Control was the number one cause of these accidents.
  • Loss of Control happens in all phases of flight. It can happen anywhere and at any time.
  • There is one fatal accident involving Loss of Control every four days.

Learn more:
Take the FAASTeam Online Course, Maneuvering: Approach and Landing.

Trump budget calls for spinning off ATC

General Aviation News

President Donald Trump released his first budget proposal March 16, 2017, which calls for spinning off Air Traffic Control from the FAA to an independent non-government organization.

The proposal mirrors that of a report released recently by the Eno Center for Transportation’s Aviation Working Group.

“The purpose of spinning off air traffic control from the federal government is to create a safer and more efficient system with the potential to continue the growth of America’s aviation industry. If the FAA was freed of its role of directing air traffic, it would be able to focus on its core mission as the aviation safety overseer,” said Eno’s President and CEO Robert Puentes.

By not being subject to budget sequestration, spending caps, government shutdowns, and hiring freezes, an independent entity would also be better able to undertake upgrades, as well as go to the capital markets for funding.

“Necessary, but sometimes cumbersome, federal procurement rules have hindered the government’s efforts to modernize air traffic control,” said Eno aviation expert Rui Neiva. “This shift would save taxpayers money and help make this crucial part of our economy more efficient.”

The ATC tower at DuPage Airport in Illinois

Not surprising is GA’s continued opposition to the possible privatization of ATC, with worries that a private entity would be controlled by the airlines.

GA advocates worry that an ATC controlled by the airlines will restrict general aviation access to certain airports or airspace. They also are opposed to the implementation of user fees to fund the system.

“We know that the notion of privatizing ATC has for decades been pushed by large airlines,” said Bolen, president and CEO of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA). “Under such a proposal, the ATC system – which is a natural monopoly that currently serves the public’s interest, and is overseen by the public’s elected representatives – would be turned over to a non-governmental entity effectively controlled by the airlines.

“Under such a scenario, the small and mid-size towns that rely on access to general aviation for everything from civil services, to emergency support, to business access and more, could have their access to airports and airspace threatened,” he continued. “This is among the many important reasons NBAA has long been very concerned over the big airlines’ proposal. Simply put, privatization of the ATC system would benefit commercial airlines at the expense of the citizens, companies and communities that rely general aviation.”

Removing ATC from FAA control and oversight would pose a significant risk to general aviation’s long-term access to the National Airspace System (NAS), echoed officials with the Experimental Aircraft Association.

“We cannot stress enough the threat ATC privatization poses to our ability to enjoy recreational aviation as freely as we do today,” officials said in a statement released March 16, 2017.

“Under such a system, ATC would be overseen and managed by a board made up of commercial interests, with the nation’s airlines having the most powerful and numerous voices,” EAA officials said. “These interests would inevitably drown out whatever token representation and economic impact GA would have on such a board, creating an ATC system that would serve commercial interests with the greatest financial resources.

“Proponents of such a system claim it will make our NAS more efficient, comparing the proposal to other privatized systems around the world,” the EAA statement continued. “But the size and complexity of the U.S. NAS dwarfs those airspace systems, and in many of those systems general aviation has been stifled.”

Additionally, proponents claim that the proposal from the White House, as well as previous privatization proposals, would save U.S. taxpayers millions of dollars, but fail to specify how that would be achieved when all existing labor and infrastructure costs would be transferred to a corporatized system, EAA officials continued.

“The truth is, these proposals do not address the underlying problem of a stable Congressional funding stream for ATC services and system modernization,” the statement noted. “A privatized system would inevitably rely on the flying public, including general aviation users, for its operations and capital investments, with resources flowing to the areas of greatest economic impact: Air carrier hubs and urban facilities.

“As such, ATC privatization would likely threaten funding for infrastructure improvements to rural airports such as towers, instrument landing facilities, and other safety-critical needs for general aviation,” the statement continued. “In fact, consistent with this shift in resources from rural needs to major air carrier commercial operations, the White House budget eliminates funding for the Essential Air Service program, which is designed to preserve commercial air service in rural areas.”

EAA officials note that the FAA and Congress “are the only unbiased arbiters ensuring fair access to the NAS to all of its users.”

“Access today is on a first come, first served basis,” they noted. “The trend under the FAA’s modernization programs has been toward a best equipped, best served model while still preserving access for general aviation operations that cannot meet new equipment mandates. Once responsibility for the air traffic system is taken out of the hands of the FAA and given to a corporate entity, the fair arbiter is lost and the organization that controls the nation’s airspace becomes beholden solely to commercial and economic interests. Those stakeholders that are the best funded, best equipped, and/or carry the most passengers will likely be the best served in a privatized system. General aviation will lose over time to economically powerful interests whose primary goal is to obtain control over the system and its resources. They will seek to minimize their own direct operating costs by reducing or eliminating services that do not directly address their needs and/or by shifting cost burdens onto other users of the system.

“The White House will be relying on Congress to draft this proposal into law under the upcoming FAA reauthorization legislative process intended to be completed by the end of September,” EAA officials said, noting the association is  “already advocating on Capitol Hill on behalf of our members and general aviation as a whole to ensure any changes to the air traffic control system serve the needs of GA.”