WSAA sends letter to our Washington State Legislative Delegation opposing any attempt by Congress to privatize our nation's air traffic control system

July 21, 2017

Dear Washington State Legislative Delegation;

As the President of the Washington State Aviation Alliance (WSAA), I am offering this letter to request that you oppose any attempt by Congress to privatize our nation’s air traffic control system and fund it with user fees.

WSAA represents the state’s key aviation organizations with almost 12,000 members. Organizations represented include the following:

  • Washington Airport Management Association
  • Washington State Community Airports Association
  • Washington Pilots Association
  • Recreational Aviation Foundation
  • Washington Aviation Association
  • Washington Seaplane Pilots Association
  • Pacific Northwest Business Aviation Association
  • Washington Public Ports Association

Our position opposing ATC privatization/user fees is supported by all WSAA members, as it is the Alliance’s policy to only support or oppose legislation when there is full concurrence from all voting members.

Federal legislation is under consideration that could fundamentally change how our air traffic control system is managed and funded. This proposal calls for turning over funding and governance authority to a board with disproportionate representation from the airlines and with the potential to raise fees, determine when companies using business aviation can fly, and cut routes to small towns and rural areas, while not alleviating delays.

We have already seen the negative effects from similarly privatized systems in several other countries. These entities receive funding through user fees, which in turn require a new bureaucracy of billing agents, collectors and auditors that impose administrative burdens on those required to pay the fees. Simply put, our country does not need a cumbersome bureaucracy to collect these onerous fees.

General aviation in the U.S. contributes to the aviation system through fuel taxes that are easily collected and efficiently administered, and should continue to do so. The general aviation community is committed to the concept that future funding and subsequent design of the national air transportation system should benefit all Americans. General aviation supports more than a million jobs and generates more than $200 billion in economic activity each year.

Our country is faced with a pilot shortage. We must refuse to take any action that might stifle the creation of new pilots, and this privatization proposal is representative of such an action. General aviation is a primary contributor for fostering new pilots. User fees will only increase the financial burdens placed on individuals desiring to become pilots.

In a privatized system, we risk altering one of the safest air traffic control systems in the world, which jeopardizes the safety of our pilots and passengers. Further, the Department of Defense recently said that creating a separate air traffic organization “raises serious concerns” in terms of our nation’s security.

Access to airports, and to the nation's airspace, creates jobs, generates economic activity, and helps make America's aviation system work for all Americans. Congressional oversight of the nation’s aviation system ensures that the public interest – including the people and companies that rely on aviation in small towns and communities – is served. Privatizing our air traffic control system could jeopardize these jobs and economic activity by threatening general aviation access to airports and airspace.

WSAA joins other aviation organizations, such as the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, National Association of State Aviation Officials and National Business Aviation Association, in asking you to protect the public interest by saying no to privatizing our air traffic control system and funding it with user fees.

Thank you for your attention. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

David Ketchum
Washington State Aviation Alliance (WSAA)