Senate FAA Bill Keeps Air Traffic Controllers Public, Emphasizes Safety
June 25, 2017
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  • A new Senate bill is underway to reauthorize funding and operations for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Sponsored by South Dakota Senator John Thune (R), the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization bill currently in the U.S. Senate isn’t expected to privatize Air Traffic Controllers (ATC), which was reported by some media outlets reported. The current law is set to expire in September. The Senate is working on longer-term plans that will solve some issues impacting U.S. aviation, Flying Magazine reported.

    The House of Representatives introduced a bill last week, the 21st Century Aviation Innovation, Reform and Reauthorization Act, which did include privatizing air traffic control (ATC). The Senate bill will not privatize ATC personnel and “focuses on enhancing safety,” Senator Thune announced Friday. Some of the reforms suggested in the Senate legislation are safety-oriented and are inspired by the United Airlines scandal involving passenger Dr. David Dao, as well as other incidents that have made headlines, according to Flying Magazine.

    The AOPA, which is the largest association of pilots and aviation enthusiasts, has endorsed the Senate bill proposed by Thune. Other associations, including the EAA, NBAA and NATA also support the Senate legislation, largely because it will not privatize air traffic control services. Another popular provision of the bill makes general aviation an “equal partner” in the air transportation system, EAA CEO and Chairman Jack Pelton told Flying Magazine. General aviation airports are small regional and commuter airports which are often overlooked in aviation legislation. 

    The legislation is regarded as bipartisan in Congress. The two sponsors are John Thune (R-SD) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) who both developed the bill along with the rest of the Senate Commerce committee members. Various pilot and aviation industry associations contributed to drafting the legislation, intended to make the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) a more effective and efficient organization serving passengers and carriers. More than 11,000 aviation organization have endorsed the legislation through the NBAA, one of the associations that contributed to the bill. Additional provisions in the bill will help rural airports and carriers.