In his recent opinion column, Billings aviation director Kevin Ploehn makes several misleading statements about a proposal to modernize our nation’s air traffic control infrastructure.
Ploehn voices concern about the impact on small, rural airports like Billings Logan International. He argues that changes would pull resources from “smaller, less populated areas to support the large urban airports” where the bulk of the air travel occurs.
This is incorrect. The proposal in question, the 21st Century AIRR Act, explicitly protects small and rural airports. It increases funding for the country’s Airport Improvement Program, which finances upgrades at smaller airports, and bolsters the Federal Contract Tower Program, which provides ATC services at many rural airports. The bill also maintains all current program contracts to guarantee fliers from rural areas do not see a disruption in service.
Furthermore, the bill protects general aviation’s unrestricted access to airspace and gives general aviation equal representation in the proposed independent non-profit entity to run ATC operations, ensuring that small and rural airports have voice.
Ploehn is right to look out for smaller airports, but luckily this bill does just that.
vice president, state and local government affairs
Airlines for America