As congressional lawmakers head home for summer recess, officials with the National Business Aviation Association note that pilots have an opportunity to build on a “Call to Action” to contact their elected representatives regarding proposals under discussion in Washington for creating a privatized air traffic control (ATC) system funded by user fees.
“For everyone in business aviation, this is a big issue,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “There’s a lot at stake here. If we found ourselves [in a situation] where we did not have access to airports, it would really call into question if there is a future for business aviation in the United States.”
As senators and representatives head home to their districts, pilots have a chance to interact with them in person, reminding them of the potentially devastating impact ATC privatization, funded by user fees, could have on their livelihoods and on the American economy.
“This is a good time to keep up the message,” said NBAA Vice President for Government Affairs Christa Fornarotto. “And there’s really no better way to do that than through personal contact.”
Fornarotto pointed out that members of Congress will make appearances at local events and on call-in radio and television broadcasts. Those events provide pilots with unparalleled opportunities to talk with them about ATC privatization funded by user fees.
Dick Doubrava, NBAA’s vice president for government affairs, said pilots would find it an easy conversation to start.
“First, if [congressmen] are members of the General Aviation Caucus in the House or Senate, thank them,” he suggested. “If they’re not, urge them to join.”
From there, Doubrava and Fornarotto suggest pilots simply tell their stories. Let lawmakers know how they feel about ATC privatization and user fees, and how instituting them could adversely affect local businesses and families.
“Face-to-face communication is the most valuable way to get the message across,” said Doubrava.
For those who may be concerned that their elected officials may not hear them, Doubrava pointed out the true nature of the relationship between legislators and the citizens they represent.
“They work for you,” said Doubrava. “Their job in Washington is to represent you. Think of them as your employee. It’s extremely important to feel comfortable with that notion in order to effectively deliver your message.”