U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) reiterated his vision of “transformative” change for the FAA, upholding private and/or non-profit air traffic management systems run by other countries as examples. Speaking before the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 14th annual Aviation Summit yesterday, he said, “We don’t need an FAA reauthorization that does half measures. I won’t do that.”
Hinting that the next reauthorization bill might look to create a new air traffic control structure, Shuster said such reform would free the FAA to return its focus to safety. He conceded such a move will be “very difficult” and said he’s been discussing various concepts with other lawmakers, including Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), whom he characterized as “the voice of general aviation.”
NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen, also speaking at yesterday’s summit, cautioned that the U.S. has the most complex and diverse system in the world, and other systems have led to access concerns. These systems are typically paid through user fees, which require a costly bureaucracy to collect, Bolen noted. Any new system must be equitable, transparent and preserve general aviation access, he said.
executives attending yesterday’s summit, however, pushed for a closer look at the international systems and key executives of air traffic management systems touted the benefits of their system. Former airline chief Bob Crandall, who moderated a session yesterday, said, “We need to get NextGen going, but we’re not going to get NextGen going until we get ATC out of the FAA.” He also recognized the political difficulties of such a move, and said, “If sombody’s ox is going to get gored, lets gore it and get on with it.”