Following opposition from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and other general aviation organizations, Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) has withdrawn controversial language in Section 5 of a last-minute “manager’s amendment” to H.R. 4, the FAA long-term funding bill.
In response to calls by general aviation associations for action, pilots flooded the switchboard at the U.S. House of Representatives, urging their members of Congress to oppose Section 5 of Shuster’s “manager’s amendment.”
Shuster introduced the amendment late on April 23, just hours ahead of the planned vote on H.R. 4. The amendment included a plan to move management of the air traffic organization from the FAA to its parent entity, the U.S. Department of Transportation, which has no expertise in running such an operation.
The amendment also called for the establishment of a 13-seat “advisory” board, the composition of which looked remarkedly like the one from Shuster’s bill for the so-called “privatization” of ATC. The chairman pulled that bill in February after two years of debate when he could not get enough votes to advance it in the House.
“Once our members weighed in to express their opposition to the amendment, we had a constructive dialogue and we are grateful that Chairman Shuster withdrew the most troubling language in Section 5 of the amendment,” said Jim Coon, AOPA senior vice president of Government Affairs. “We hope now H.R. 4 can move forward. All of aviation will benefit from a long-term funding bill.”
“Once again, the power of a large, active, and engaged membership base proved important in stopping this onerous proposal,” said AOPA President and CEO Mark Baker. “AOPA members responded immediately Tuesday afternoon to our calls for action and House members quickly knew that general aviation was not going to allow this to pass. As always, we are thankful for AOPA members who took immediate action to get this last-minute deal stopped in its tracks. You made this happen.
“Let’s get this reauthorization bill passed to guarantee stable funding for the FAA for the next five years and then let’s call a summit of air traffic control stakeholders to develop a plan to modernize the system in a transparent and productive way,” Baker continued. “We are anxious to work with the administration, the airlines, and others to continue to advance our air traffic system, which is already the largest, safest, and most complex in the world. But we all know we can’t rest on our laurels. The system must continue to advance, and we support that.”