A group of 38 attendees in Washington, D.C., for the 2017 National Air Transportation Association (NATA) Aviation Business Conference and legislative fly-in headed to Capitol Hill this morning to voice their concern about the latest calls to reform the U.S. air traffic control system. The group held 36 meetings with senators from 18 states.
While it’s not clear that the House of Representatives, which is pushing ATC reform as part of the FAA's next reauthorization, will produce a bill, marshaling Senate opposition serves as a safety net for groups that oppose the change. Executives from several trade associations said that while their legislative teams continue to work this and other key issues, nothing sways legislators like hearing from voters.
“They want to hear from constituents,” NATA executive v-p of government and external affairs Bill Deere told attendees. “You are the most important people going up.”
The timing of the Trump Administration’s announcement backing ATC reform on Monday means that this week’s visits “could be the last general aviation group to speak with” lawmakers before they see a draft of a new FAA bill, Deere noted. Congress will take a one-week break early next month and plans a five-week summer break starting July 31.
While every voter’s voice counts, NBAA COO Steve Brown underscored the added importance of employers explaining the ramifications of poor legislation on their operations. Elected officials “listen to you, as employers,” he said. “They want to hear from companies who employ constituents.” NBAA also has a Contact Congress webpage that makes it easy for those in the business aviation industry to sent comments to their legislators.