AOPA, NBAA Warn of ‘Troubling’ ATC User Fee Bill

ATC workstation [Credit: NAV CANADA]

The leaders of two of aviation's most powerful lobbying associations are aligning in vocal opposition to a plan by the head of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to introduce legislation aimed at paying for future ATC services through user fees.

Mark Baker, president of AOPA, and Ed Bolen, head of the National Business Aviation Association, warned that legislation about to be introduced by Committee head Rep. Bill Shuster (R.-Pa.) threatens to stifle general aviation and restrict access to airports and airspace by imposing user fees.

"I think almost everyone agrees the FAA is in need of an overhaul in many areas, but it's vital that any changes protect the interests of all system users, including GA, while ensuring the highest levels of safety," Baker said after he met with Shuster recently to reiterate AOPA's opposition to the plan.

In a speech last week before the Aero Club of Washington, Shuster proposed creating a not-for-profit privatized corporation to run ATC that would be funded by user fees. NBAA's Bolen called the proposal "troubling," saying that turning over oversight of the country's ATC to a private board that may or may not have aviation's best interests in mind "is the wrong thing to do."

Both associations say they are closely monitoring the situation in Congress. A bill could be introduced at anytime, critics warned. If necessary, Baker and Bolen say they plan to rally their respective memberships to contact their representatives in Congress in opposition to the legislation.

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