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Union, groups concerned about proposal to privatize aviation system

The American Federation of Government Employees along with seven other groups that represent the Federal Aviation Administration employees has sent a letter to lawmakers expressing their opposition to a proposal to privatize the air traffic control system.

The American Federation of Government Employees, along with seven other groups that represent the Federal Aviation Administration employees, has sent a letter to lawmakers expressing their opposition to a proposal to privatize the air traffic control system.

The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure held a hearing May 17 to discuss the need for reform, where the committee chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) said he would make moving air traffic control from the government to a private, nonprofit entity a key part of the upcoming FAA reauthorization bill.

“Previous efforts to reform the FAA and modernize the system teach us that the only way to realize these benefits is to get the government out of the way,” Shuster said in his opening statement. “As President Reagan said, ‘government is not the solution to the problem; government is the problem,’” he added.

However, in the letter to committee members, AFGE and the groups contend that overhauling the aviation system will be a serious setback to FAA’s development and growth, particularly its work with modernizing and replacing its radar-based air traffic control system with a GPS-based system called, "NextGen,"which is being spearheaded by FAA researchers and engineers at the William J. Hughes Technical Center outside Atlantic City, N.J.

 “FAA employees have decades of specialized experience maintaining the National Airspace System that cannot be replaced without great costs to American taxpayers and great risks to the flying public,” Ron Consalvo, president of AFGE Local 200, which represents more than 340 federal employees at the technical center, said in statement.

The group letter stated; “Privatization is unlikely to make the system more efficient or less costly, but would introduce a significant level of uncertainty into the global aviation economy.”

The groups strongly discouraged the lawmakers from considering privatization of any kind.

The American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees; FAA Managers Association; National Association of Government Employees; National Federation of Federal Employees; Professional Association of Aeronautical Center Employees; Professional Aviation Safety Specialists all signed the letter.

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