NATCA union supports 21st century AIRR Act

National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) has lent its support to the latest legislative attempt to spin off the Air Traffic Organization for the Federal Aviation Administration.

The bill introduced by House transportation committee chairman Bill Shuster, as part of an effort to reauthorise the Federal Aviation Administration would create a federally chartered, not-for-profit corporation called the American Air Navigation Services Corporation. The purpose, according to the proposed legislation, is to “provide for the more efficient operation and improvement of air traffic services”.

“After extremely careful review, consideration, and deliberation, we have decided to support the bill because it fully aligns with NATCA’s policies, practices, and core principles,” said union president Paul Rinaldi after Shuster introduced the 21st Century Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act.

“We made sure that we clearly understood how this bill would protect the National Airspace System (NAS) and allow it to continue to grow, as well as how it would protect the men and women who are the backbone of the system. This bill protects our workforce – including pay, benefits, retirement, and collective bargaining rights.

NATCA said it is focused on providing a stable, predictable funding stream to operate and improve the NAS and that any ATC reform legislation must, at a minimum, meet four core principles for reform:

• Protect the men and women who ensure the safety and efficiency of the NAS in their employment relationship, including their rights and benefits;

• Maintain safety and efficiency as the top priorities;

• Provide a stable, predictable funding stream that adequately supports air traffic control services, staffing, hiring and training, long-term modernization, preventative maintenance, and ongoing modernization of the physical infrastructure; and

• Ensure continued service to all segments of our nation’s diverse aviation community.”

NATCA said it remains open to considering any FAA reauthorization or FAA reform proposal, as long as it addresses the problems with the status quo and is not a for-profit model. NATCA said it also supports the provisions in H.R. 2800, the Aviation Funding Stability Act, introduced by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Peter DeFazio.

It has goals similar: upgrade air traffic control technology faster and stabilize the FAA’s funding. But the Democrats’ proposal would accomplish these while keeping air traffic controllers within the FAA. The Democrats’ bill would pull the Airport and Airway Trust Fund, which supports many of the FAA’s services, out of the annual federal budget process, so functions like air traffic control would not be subject to sequestration or potential government shutdowns. It would require revenues from ticket taxes to be spent on the aviation system.

 

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