In response to Billie Ruff's Sept. 21 guest opinion about privatization of air traffic control systems:

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that 76 percent of 2016 flight delays were caused by weather and the airlines themselves. ATC made up 23 percent of airport delays, not the "more than half" claimed in her opinion. ATC isn't the cause, it's lack of capacity. Privatizing ATC will not create additional runways, taxiways, concourses or gates for the airlines. Airports have not kept pace with airline growth.

The FAA is addressing the aging ATC system through its NextGen program. NextGen has saved the airlines and traveling public $1.6 billion so far, and is estimated to save $11.4 billion over the next 15 years. The Congressional Budget Office estimates privatized ATC would add nearly $100 billion to the federal deficit over the next 10 years.

According to a May, 2017 Congressional Research Service report, none of the proposed privatized ATC models are superior or inferior to the current FAA-run air traffic services. A 2016 GAO report states that the privatized Canadian ATC system has had to cut costs and raise its user fees in order to maintain its operations.

Airlines want to take control of the ATC system so they can determine where and when small, general aviation operators can fly. Supporters of HR 2997 claim there are protections for these operators. The truth is that a privatized ATC corporation could allow airlines to restrict private aviation.

Please tell Sens. Steve Daines and Jon Tester, and Rep. Greg Gianforte you oppose HR 2997.

Tony Wall

Billings

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