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"Shuster Unveils New ATC Proposal with Fee Exemptions"


 
Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Shuster Unveils New ATC Proposal with Fee Exemptions
By Kerry Lynch
Aviation International News


The U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee today unveiled 
a new air traffic control (ATC) reform proposal that would carve the 
organization out of the FAA, but attempts to assuage concerns of business and 
general aviation and rural organizations by exempting Part 91 and 135 from new 
user fees and including access protections.

The proposal is included in a comprehensive six-year FAA reauthorization 
bill-the 21st Century Aviation Innovation, Reform and Reauthorization Act-that 
also will address key issues such as the FAA's certification process, unmanned 
aircraft systems, safety and consumer issues.

T&I chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pennsylvania) detailed the bill during a gathering 
with reporters today, saying, "It's time to put the American people ahead of 
Washington bureaucracy. It is about saving the taxpayers money. For too many 
years we've put money into the FAA to develop new technology and got very 
little back. It's about creating American jobs, it's about unleashing 
innovation and it's about putting the traveling public ahead of the dysfunction 
here in Washington, D.C."

Shuster added that the reauthorization package "improves upon the bill we put 
forth in the last Congress," and said the new version has picked up support 
from House appropriators, captured interest of Democrats and received critical 
backing of General Aviation Caucus co-chair Sam Graves (R-Missouri). It also 
has support from House leaders and the White House. The changes are the 
culmination of more than 150 meetings and six hearings, he added.

The ATC reform proposal is largely based on the proposal that faltered in the 
House last year. But the changes in this year's bill represent a series of 
compromises designed to reach some of the most vocal critics. This year's 
proposal is similar to last year's in that the new ATC organization would be 
run by the board, but Shuster said the board would have more transparency. The 
makeup of the 13-member board would be different, with one seat each to be 
given to people nominated by Part 121 carriers, cargo carriers, regional 
carriers, airports, business aviation and general aviation, along with the air 
traffic controllers and pilot unions. The Department of Transportation would 
get to appoint two members. Two "at large" seats will be set aside, ostensibly 
for people with financial backgrounds. The board would be led by a CEO.

As for the fee structure, Part 91 and 135 operators would pay the existing 
excise taxes to support the remaining FAA functions and the Airport Improvement 
Program. Last year's proposal had exemptions for general aviation but would 
have assessed the user fees on the Part 135 community. Also believed to remain 
intact are the $4.10 per-segment passenger fee and international overflight 
fees, among other taxes. Shuster said these taxes would be hashed out with the 
House Ways and Means Committee.

The airline ticket tax, however, would transition to a user-fee system for Part 
121 carriers to fund the new organization. A two-thirds super majority vote of 
the board will be required to raise the airline user fees.

The proposal also includes language guaranteeing access for small operators and 
to small communities and establishes a three-part oversight process. Shuster 
emphasized that he represents a rural district and wants to protect his 
constituents. He also noted opportunities in the future with the emergence of 
remote towers.

Shuster plans to bring the bill up for committee review on June 27 and hopes to 
have it receive full consideration on the House floor in mid-July. He concedes 
that he has not yet received input from general aviation groups on the bill.
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