General aviation groups are pleading for Congress to ground a proposal to privatize privatize large portions of the nation's air traffic control system in a funding measure for the Federal Aviation Administration.
Lawmakers are already expected to debate a proposal from House Republicans to create a new nongovernmental agency that would take over air traffic control from the FAA as Congress tries to beat a March 31 deadline for renewing the agency's funding.
A group of 15 aviation organizations who represent non-commercial flight operators in Washington said in letter to members of the House Transportation Committee on Tuesday that lawmakers should not rush to embrace the air traffic control privatization proposals, despite claims from backers about the success of similar systems in Canada and several European nations.
"The general aviation community has very real and long-standing concerns about foreign air traffic control models, which go well beyond the user fee issue," the groups wrote. "These concerns are based on our operating experiences in foreign systems, as well as thoughtful analysis about what those systems might look like in the United States."
The FAA's funding bill is one of the few pieces of must-pass legislation that is left on Congress' agenda after a busy 2015 that saw lawmakers pass a large spending bill for most government agencies and a multi-year highway funding package.
GOP leaders in the House have said the proposed nongovernmental entity could better manage the commercial and private jet flights in the nation's airspace.
"After examining various models, I believe we need to establish a federally chartered, fully independent not-for-profit corporation to operate and modernize our ATC [air traffic control] services," House Transportation Committee Chairman Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa. said during a speech last June at the Aero Club of Washington.
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