Last week the US House of Representatives voted to extend FAA funding for another six months, by a vote of 264 to 155.
The extension, which was set to expire on September 30th, allows more time for debating whether air traffic control (ATC) should be privatized - although it should be noted that the bill itself does not include provisions to privatize the running of ATC and remove it from FAA control. This could be voted upon separately in October, as a previous attempt to vote on the extension under suspended rules was blocked over bipartisan opposition to added flood insurance, hurricane relief and health care provisions.
Supporters of ATC privatization believe that it would be a benefit not to have to debate this annual funding, however many of those in opposition feel that privatization would result in the airline industry having too much control over the system.
Mark Baker, President and CEO of AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) who oppose the ATC legislation stated:
“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.”
AOPA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Jim Coon added:
“A few people in Washington may support this idea but most folks outside of Washington are strongly opposed. It’s not privatization first of all, there’s is no innovation or competitive bidding here. It’s simply a total giveaway to the airlines and special interests and if you think that is good for GA, then we need to talk.”
President of GAMA (The General Aviation Manufacturers Association), Pete Bunce said:
“GAMA urges Congress to now focus on passing bipartisan, consensus-driven FAA reauthorization legislation that addresses many critical aviation issues, such as aircraft certification reform and continued implementation of on-schedule modernization programs. They should reject air traffic control privatization proposals, including Title II of H.R. 2997, which are divisive, distracting and fraught with risks."
The latest funding will keep the agency afloat until March 31st, 2018 which should avoid a repeat of the situation in 2013 when air traffic controllers were laid off and flights were delayed due to cuts in FAA funding.