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ATC Privatization (KAA Call to Action)

08/01/2017 12:00:00

My fellow KAA members and Kansas aviation family:

 By now you all have heard about the efforts in Washington D.C. to corpo- ratize our national air traffic control system, as expressed in H.R. 2997, which can be read in its entirety here:  https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/2997/text#tocH22C8044E32B14A45A8DDD7FEF76FEBA5. The bill actually contains some positive things as it relates to airports; however, the biggest hurdle the bill is facing is getting the votes to support the ATC provision.

 The argument we have heard is that taking ATC away from the FAA will lead to greater efficiencies in manage- ment and quicker implementation of NextGen.  The proponents declare that the FAA has wasted too much time and money to be trusted; that a not-for-profit board can better lead our national system.

 The opponents have questioned the impact a new type of structure would have on general aviation and airports across rural America.  In response, language was inserted to address these concerns; however, unknowns still surround how this new structure would oversee the system.

 Meanwhile, lobbying is intensifying on the hill as Congressmen that had previously taken a strong stance in opposition to the bill are getting pres- sured to play ball and flip. As such it is important for the Kansas delegation to hear from you, their constituent. Please consider calling, emailing or writing to your Congressman.  Contact information can be found below.

  Here are a few things to consider as you read H.R 2997 and formulate your stance on the issue.

 The role of government is to serve the greater public interest.  We ex- pect our government to be ap- proachable, transparent, and fair. This is highly ideological as we know that our government doesn’t always get things right.  In fact, one thing that can unify both sides of this issue is the thought that the FAA needs reform, but how much is too much? Change is vital to any process improvement but too much change will hit the law of diminish- ing returns and lead to a reduction of efficiency.

 When thinking about how a new not-for-profit organization can bet- ter lead the ATC system, think about the new structure that is get- ting created from H.R. 2997.  A 12 member board made up of several different interests (including air carrier, regional carrier, airports and manufacturers) will be charged with oversight. Having that many interests represented around a table will make consensus difficult, con- flict inevitable and bureaucracy a result.

 This new board will also have committees that will oversee specific functions, such as safety.  In addition, an advisory board will be formed with nearly as many members and interests represented as the governing board. Duplicating interests on boards is not a formula for efficiency.  Having selective members guide issues such as safety is not an improvement in ATC safety management.  This system is no less bureaucratic; no more efficient.

  The bill gives the governing board the ability to propose new fees but it still must go through a review by the Secretary of Transportation. Those proposed fees must also abide by ICAO standards. This process is no less bureaucratic; no more efficient.

  If an airport tower is closed the Secretary will evaluate to assess the impact and access of that airport. The Secre- tary may publish a docket in the Federal Register to solicit public comment to assist in deciding the best option in the interest of the public. Again, this process is no less bureaucratic; no more efficient.

  There is also language in H.R. 2997 that states the new entity can transfer current FAA employees over so the same staff that is running the ATC system will continue to run the system.  This all begs the question – if a new structure is just as bureaucratic, just as heavily regulated and run by the same employees that run it now, why is this change necessary?

  One of the greatest challenges the FAA has faced in creating a new ATC system is the lack of consistent and complete funding.  While I can agree that the FAA could do well with im- plementing some reforms to make them more approachable, transparent and fair, I cannot support a change that results in no less bureaucracy; no more efficiency.

  Earlier in the year the Kansas Association of Airport’s board decided to take a stance against the attempted privatization of air traffic control.  I ask that you join me today in contact- ing your Congressmen and ask that they oppose H.R. 2997.

  You may contact:

 Rep. Dr. Marshall at 202-225-2715 

Rep. Jenkins at 202-225-6601

Rep. Yoder at 202-225-2865

Rep. Estes at 202-225-6216

 

Jesse R. Romo

MHK Airport Director

KAA President