Air traffic control bill introduced

A bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced legislation that would prohibit the privatization or contracting out of the federal air traffic control system.

The Air Traffic Control System Integrity Act of 2003 was introduced April 10 by four senior members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee: Reps. James Oberstar, D-Minn., ranking Democrat on the committee; Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., chairman of the Coast Guard and maritime transportation subcommittee; Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., ranking Democrat on the aviation subcommittee; and Jack Quinn, R-N.Y., chairman of the railroads subcommittee.

The bill, strongly supported by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, would prevent the Transportation Department from authorizing the conversion of any Federal Aviation Administration facility or outsourcing of work performed by FAA air traffic control employees to private or public entities other than the U.S. government.

Air traffic controllers have been angered recently by the FAA's decision to classify them as not filling an inherently governmental function but protected from outsourcing. FAA Administrator Marion Blakey has said that despite the reclassification, there are no plans to privatize air traffic control.


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