No Letup in Anti-Privatization Battle, Despite Summer Recess

The red signs and banners calling for the modernization, not privatization, of ATC were displayed prominently at EAA AirVenture 2017. Jon Whittle

The mobilization efforts by advocacy groups fighting to defeat H.R. 2997 (the ATC bill promoted by Rep. Bill Shuster R-PA) and the effort to privatize the ATC system show no signs of letting up, despite the August Congressional recess. While progress to pass H.R. 2997 appears to have slowed somewhat, or at least the publicity surrounding those efforts, anti-privatization proponents are not waiting until Congress reconvenes in September to decide their next moves (

The National Business Aviation Association says Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN) has spoken to the importance of continuing to lobby lawmakers while they’re back home. “We are in the fight of our lives here, in terms of access to airspace in the future,” he said. “This effort is not privatization,” he added. “This is a corporate takeover. We have tens of thousands of constituents who will be negatively affected by this [legislation]. Members of Congress need to hear from them.”

A recent radio ad produced by the Citizens for Ontime Flights, a pro-privatization group, makes it clear the airlines are willing to support almost any message to convince people to back their cause. This one claims business aviation gets a free tax ride while using the ATC system, a statement that is clearly not true.

Opposing privatization, more than 130 aviation organizations have stood up to fight H.R. 2997. Retired US Airways pilot Sully Sullenberger wants to defeat the legislation to privatize the ATC system.

To date there has been little compromise on either side of the debate. Parties that support privatizing ATC have offered many promises, but few specifics on how those promises might work.

Anti-privatization supporters have created a resource site at "ATC Not for Sale", that includes methods to contact Congress through e-mail and social media.

Rob MarkAuthor
Rob Mark is an award-winning journalist, business jet pilot, flight instructor, and blogger.

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