WASHINGTON, June 22, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJASAP), Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA), and Allied Pilots Association (APA) are pleased to announce their support for HR 2997: The 21st Century Aviation Innovation, Reform and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act, which will expedite the overdue modernization of the national airspace system. The consortium of independent pilot labor advocates views this landmark legislation introduced by House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., and Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-NJ, as a definitive step in the right direction – one that makes progressive updates to sustain and enhance all sectors of a thriving domestic industry.
"Chairman Shuster and Rep. LoBiondo demonstrated outstanding leadership and foresight as they worked to draft the FAA bill," NJASAP President Pedro Leroux said. "Their efforts acknowledge the need to improve and to offer greater stability to the National Airspace System, which continues to be a vital engine for our nation's economy." Added SWAPA President Capt. Jon Weaks, "The Southwest, American and NetJets pilots sincerely appreciate their efforts to enact consequential language that supports and improves both commercial and general aviation."
Among other vital improvements, the Shuster measure would privatize Air Traffic Control (ATC), providing a stable funding stream and access to advanced technologies that support the world's most dynamic and challenging airspace system. "We applaud the Chairman's efforts to secure stable funding for ATC," Weaks said. "This funding, along with the freedom to effectively solicit bids and to execute contracts without being mired in bureaucracy, will, at long last, allow for the timely implementation of new technologies and procedures." NATCA, the labor advocate that represents ATC interests, has long supported a stable, predictable funding stream that adequately supports air traffic control services, staffing, hiring and training as well as modernization and preventative maintenance of its physical infrastructure.
The unions are also keen to acknowledge Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., who chairs the General Aviation and Congressional Pilots caucuses, for his successful efforts to ensure the general aviation (GA) community is protected in the bill: The AIRR Act steers clear of decimating one sector of the industry – the GA community to be specific – to enhance another. For example, GA pilots and operators will continue to have access to lesser used airports and the composition of the Air Traffic Organization (ATO) Board of Directors now provides GA more parity with their commercial counterparts than previous iterations of the legislation. Of equal importance, GA will continue to pay for use of the system through the current aviation fuel tax structure rather than user fees.
"The Allied Pilots Association welcomes Chairman Shuster's proposal to exempt general aviation from new user fees as many of our members are also private pilots," APA President Capt. Dan Carey said. "Likewise, we support efforts to modernize our nation's ATC system and commend his proposal to ensure pilot union representation on a new ATO governing board."
Separately, the bill calls for the creation of an FAA Aviation Rulemaking Committee to revise flight duty and rest guidelines for Part 135 carriers based on scientific study and similar regulations for commercial airline pilots. The current duty and rest guidance for on-demand operators was last updated in the late 1950s. "NJASAP, with the support of our SWAPA and APA peers, have advocated for this long overdue update for more than eight years," Leroux said. "We are very pleased Chairman Shuster has recognized the importance of a revision that will bring the charter community into the 21st Century."
Union leaders agreed they would be remiss if they failed to recognize LoBiondo in addition to House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Ranking Member Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., and Aviation Subcommittee Ranking Member Rick Larsen, D-Wash., for their demonstrated commitment to aviation. "Each of these congressmen has taken extraordinary steps to promote the aviation industry, ensuring it is the safest and most reliable in the world," Carey said, adding all have supported legislation that ensures fair competition and a level playing field across the domestic aviation marketplace.
About APA Founded in 1963, the Allied Pilots Association — the largest independent pilots union in the United States — is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. APA represents the 15,000 pilots of American Airlines, including several hundred pilots on full-time military leave of absence serving in the armed forces. The union's website is AlliedPilots.org. American Airlines is the world's largest passenger airline.
About NJASAP Established in 2008 as an independent labor advocate, NJASAP represents the professional interests of the 2,700-plus pilots who fly in the service of NetJets Aviation, Inc. For more information, visit our web site, www.njasap.com, Facebook page, www.facebook.com/njasap, or Twitter feed, @njasap.
About SWAPA Located in Dallas, Texas, the Southwest Airlines Pilots' Association (SWAPA) is a non-profit employee organization representing the more than 8,500 pilots of Southwest Airlines. SWAPA works to provide a secure and rewarding career for Southwest pilots and their families through negotiating contracts, defending contractual rights and actively promoting professionalism and safety. For more information on the Southwest Airlines Pilots' Association, visit www.swapa.org.
SOURCE NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJASAP); Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association (SWAPA); Allied Pilots Association (APA)