Shuster Calls for User Fee-funded ATC Corporation

 - June 16, 2015, 7:30 AM

Yesterday House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) gave the most detailed picture yet of his vision for ATC reform, outlining the creation of an independent, not-for-profit corporation funded by user fees. Speaking to the Aero Club of Washington on June 15, Shuster also explained plans to overhaul certification reform and said he hopes to introduce a comprehensive reauthorization bill later this month addressing both issues.

Shuster reiterated his case for change, saying modernization efforts “aren’t working” and “federal funding certainty for aviation has ceased to exist.” Under the ATC plan, the FAA would retain safety oversight and regulatory authority. The corporation would be run by a board representing both users and public interests. The user fees would be “insulated from the federal budget.” Shuster did not provide detail on the fees or whether they would replace or be in addition to current taxes. As for the board, he said the intent is for a fair representation.

But business and general aviation groups remain skeptical. “NBAA [has] serious concerns with a number of the concepts the congressman described,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen. “Congress must keep its long-standing authority over decisions about aviation taxes, and access to airports and airspace, and Congress must continue to oppose per-flight user fees.” AOPA senior v-p for government affairs Jim Coon also stressed that the current method of collecting revenues through the fuel tax works and reiterated the association’s opposition to user fees.