The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) has praised the move by US lawmakers to ensure that all Federal Aviation Administration programmes, projects, or activities continue uninterrupted to enable the agency to carry out its mission in the event of a future government shutdown.
The US House of Representatives Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) passed by unanimous consent H.R. 1108, the Aviation Funding Stability Act of 2019, a bipartisan bill with 138 co-sponsors which would authorise the FAA to draw from the Airport and Airway Trust Fund (AATF).
“Stop-and-go funding crises wreak havoc on the personal lives of air traffic controllers and other aviation safety professionals, degrade the safety of the National Airspace System, delay critical modernisation and infrastructure projects, and exacerbate the current controller staffing crisis,” NATCA president Paul Rinaldi said. “The National Airspace System is less safe today than it was before the beginning of the last shutdown. We do not know how long the effects of the shutdown will plague the FAA, and we cannot identify all of the potential safety implications the shutdown caused.”
NATCA worked closely with House T&I Chairman Peter DeFazio and Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Rick Larsen on this bill, as well as Congressman Bob Gibbs to help gather support. “We thank them for developing a targeted way of maintaining stability for the aviation system,” Rinaldi said.
“We absolutely must not endure even one more day living and working under a government shutdown,” Rinaldi said. “Our aviation system, which is a national treasure, deserves better. The system requires a stable, predictable funding stream. Chairman DeFazio’s bill provides a better way, and it has our full support.”
The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) also applauded the passage of the new bill. “The aviation industry’s recovery from the recent 35-day U.S. partial government shutdown will be both lengthy and complicated, and any subsequent shutdown of the FAA would multiply the negative impacts on small businesses, the economy and safety. The Aviation Funding Stability Act of 2019 will help the aviation industry avoid any further harmful disruptions,” said Peter Bunce, GAMA president and CEO.