- The Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization Act
As the pro-aviation industry's Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association ("AOPA") puts it, this is a "long-awaited" bill that tackles medical certificate reform and privatizes our air traffic control system.
Landing at 270 pages, the AIRR Act's essential purpose is to modernize America's aviation system by making the Federal Aviation Administration - the agency tasked with regulating and overseeing all aspects of civil aviation - more effective.
But there are concerns, particularly with air traffic control.
AOPA President Mark Baker said, "[T]he plan to separate air traffic control from the FAA [raises] important questions that demand meaningful answers."
- U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio: Devolution of aviation safety
U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) argues against privatization: "[T]his legislation is a terrible deal for taxpayers and the traveling public, and it raises significant questions about the safety oversight of our national airspace system."
The AIRR Act is a terrible deal, according to DeFazio, mainly because it would hand over billions of dollars worth of the taxpayers' assets - air traffic control facilities and equipment - to the ATC Corp. for free. In addition, the AIRR Act would make the FAA's safety programs vulnerable to government budget cuts.
- U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster: The FAA isn't going anywhere
U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), on the other hand, argues that the AIRR Act would position America to continue to lead the world in aviation, and assures us that the FAA isn't going anywhere: "The aviation regulatory agency remains responsible for safety and rules for operating the aviation system."
Yet, at the heart of Shuster's argument, is that the FAA is a giant bureaucracy incapable of modernizing the industry, particularly the air traffic control system. The solution is to go "bold," to privatize air traffic control operations under the ATC Corp., which is presumed to do the job better than the FAA can.
If there are any safety concerns, Shuster assuages them by writing that the FAA will keep doing what it does best: regulating the industry for safety.