Airlines for America satisfied with AIRR Act legislation for air traffic control improvements

The U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee recently approved legislation that established an independent, not-for-profit corporation outside of the federal government to modernize America’s air traffic control (ATC) system and provide air traffic services.

In addition, H.R. 4441, the Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act, introduced by Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) and Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), provides a number of reforms to the U.S. aviation system and upholds the FAA’s role as the nation’s aviation safety regulator.

“From the airlines' perspective, the need for air traffic control reform is important to us because it’s important to our customers,” Melanie Hinton, managing director of airline industry public relations and communications for Airlines for America, recently told TI News. “We run the safest system in the world, but (it) is not as efficient as it could be.”

In a recent government watchdog study, it was found that there are too few fully qualified controllers, but the FAA considers airport facilities fully staffed because controllers still in training are considered capable of stepping in when they are needed. The problem is that it takes time to become fully qualified.

“The AIRR Act provides the transformational reform necessary to bring our antiquated air traffic system into the modern era and allow America to lead the world again in aviation,” Shuster said.

Hinton explained that the AIRR Act is important because of the airline industry’s need for efficiency and cost management.

“According to the FAA, delays and lost productivity cost the U.S. $30 billion annually,” Hinton said. “We have funding and governance challenges that prevent the FAA from improving efficiency (and) implementing NextGen; and (has led to) furloughing air traffic controllers.”

Hinton also explained that Airlines for America supported Shuster’s push for the bill and it is necessary to improve the industry, especially for the customer.

“A more efficient system with proper governance, funding and accountability will bolster our nation’s first-rate safety record and result in more choice, more direct trips, lower fuel consumption, reduced emissions and fewer flight delays,” she said. “We share Chairman Shuster’s goal of seeing more air traffic controllers hired, making our system even safer, and most importantly, making flying better – and at no additional cost – for the traveling public.”

Organizations in this story

Airlines for America 1275 Pennsylvania Ave NW Washington, DC - 20004

U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure 2165 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC - 20515

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