Republican Rep. Hal Rogers, Kentucky’s most senior lawmaker in Congress, told top leaders in the House of Representatives that he opposes any legislation that would remove oversight of the nation’s airspace from the Federal Aviation Administration.
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is widely expected to unveil a bill Wednesday that would transfer air traffic control to an outside, nonprofit organization. The current FAA authorization expires on March 31.
Rogers, the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, and three of his House colleagues wrote Speaker Paul Ryan on Monday that he wants to preserve the role of Congress in overseeing and funding air traffic control.
“We cannot,” they wrote, “support legislation that places air traffic control functions on autopilot.”
March 31 When current FAA authorization expires.
Rogers and Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., and David Price, D-N.C., also wrote that the Republican proposal could be detrimental to national security.
“We would have serious concerns about the chain of command in a national emergency and the ability of our defense and law enforcement agencies to have unfettered access to national airspace,” they wrote Ryan.
In a speech to aviation industry leaders last year, Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., proposed taking the taxes and fees on fuel and plane tickets and creating a new entity outside the FAA, directed by aviation stakeholders, to manage the system.
We do not believe that creating a separate air traffic entity, removed from congressional oversight, will advance efforts to modernize air traffic control.
Reps. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., and David Price, D-N.C.
Supporters of that plan say it would help speed up the process and lower the cost of transitioning the air traffic control system from radar technology developed after World War II to a more modern, satellite-based system called NextGen.
But many still aren’t on board. Rogers and his colleagues wrote that an independent entity would not be as accountable to the public as the FAA is now.
“We do not believe that creating a separate air traffic entity, removed from congressional oversight, will advance efforts to modernize air traffic control,” they wrote.