Even though Congress took its annual August recess through Labor Day, general aviation groups urged the GA community to continue its grassroots efforts by contacting their local congressional leaders and asking them to stop H.R. 2997, under which congressional oversight of the nation’s aviation system would be replaced by an entity governed by a private group unaccountable to Congress.
H.R. 2997 was introduced in June by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-9-PA), and he and other proponents are working to bring the bill to a vote when Congress returns to Washington in September.
GA group leaders encourage those in the GA community to visit www.atcnotforsale.com to find information resources on the issue, including an area that focuses on Myths vs. Facts. For instance, the proponents of H.R. 2997 say “Efforts to modernize our ATC system under the FAA from a World War II-era inefficient, radar-based system to modern, satellite-based system, have failed, running up against billions in cost-overruns and decades of delay.”
Opponents say that this claim is linking ATC privatization with modernization, and they are not connected. The atcnotforsale website states, “According to the FAA Administrator, over the past five years, NextGen has delivered benefits to the aviation industry and traveling public that are on time and on budget. Significant progress has occurred on modernization programs including ADS-B, a GPS-based surveillance technology that provides direct routings and GPS tracking of aircraft. The FAA also created 4,000 GPS approaches offering precision guidance to the runway without the need for ground based equipment.”
The latest snag that has been introduced regarding privatizing ATC is that it would add a large sum to the federal deficit over the next 10 years. Just another point to debate in this multi-faceted, disputed bill.
The FAA’s legal authority expires at the end of September. We will see if another extension is in order or if the bill moves on.
New NTSB Chairman Confirmed
Robert L. Sumwalt III was sworn in as the 14th chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in early August. Sumwalt’s nomination for a two-year term by President Trump was confirmed by the Senate August 3. The aviation community was expecting the confirmation as Sumwalt has been serving as the agency’s acting chairman since March 31 of this year.
Aviation groups welcome Sumwalt as he has vast experience in the aviation industry, with an added interest in safety. The new chairman began his tenure with the NTSB in 2006 appointed by President George W. Bush. Before joining the NTSB Sumwalt was a pilot for 32 years, including 24 years with Piedmont Airlines and US Airways, accumulating more than 14,000 flight hours. During his tenure at US Airways he worked on special assignment to the flight safety department and also served on the airline’s Flight Operational Quality Assurance monitoring team. Sumwalt chaired the Air Line Pilots Association’s Human Factors and Training Group and co-founded the association’s critical incident response program. He also spent eight years as a consultant to NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System and has written extensively on aviation safety matters.