Editor's Log

October 2017 Issue

See You In September

If you’ve been paying attention to this magazine and other general aviation media the last several months, you know that there’s a serious (in the sense it could become law) proposal to privatize the U.S. air traffic control system.

Capitol Dome At Night

In the U.S. House of Representatives, bill H.R. 2997 contains the privatization proposal as part of a larger measure designed to fund the FAA and its programs beyond September 30, 2017, their current expiration date.

It should come as no surprise we oppose such a proposal. It is, as U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said over the summer, “...a solution in search of a problem.” Her appropriations subcommittee nixed the idea along with her counterparts in the Senate earlier this year. But as this issue of the magazine was being finalized, it’s still a thing. And the controversy surrounding it may be coming to a crescendo about the time this issue of the magazine lands in your mailbox.

That’s because September 30 also is the end of the federal government’s fiscal year, and there is a crunch of major, must-pass legislation unrelated to aviation that is facing the same deadline. In other words, it’s silly season again in Washington, when anything can happen.

Since there’s so much Congress has to do in September (and probably into October, to be honest) there’s not much opportunity for both the House and Senate to consider their respective versions of FAA legislation, reconcile their differences—which include ATC privatization—and pass the results on to the president for enactment. It’s likely Congress will kick this can down the road, either for a few weeks or until early 2018.

The punchline is there’s good reason to believe ATC privatization is a dead issue for the next few weeks, perhaps until 2018. Which is why those of us opposing it need to redouble our efforts and push the final stake through its heart. Proponents haven’t been idle over the summer.

Official Washington and much of general aviation’s alphabet soup took the month off during August, but Congress returned right after Labor Day and is struggling to find consensus on a variety of issues, large and small. Many of those issues will demand a great deal of time and attention from elected officials, and there’s only so much time they have. By making it obvious that ATC privatization is controversial and opposed by the people who actually use air traffic control, your Congresscritter hopefully will be reluctant to even consider it.

All of which is a long-winded way to once again encourage you to pick up the phone and call—don’t just click—your representatives in Washington to express your views on this topic. (Hint: If you support ATC privatization, fine; just don’t call.)