By Rob Finfrock

Mark Baker, President and CEO of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), began the second day of CJP 2016 with an update on the group’s advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill, including the ongoing debate over FAA reauthorization and proposed language supporting privatization of the nation’s air traffic control (ATC) network.

Photo by Peter Stratton

Photo by Peter Stratton

“Airlines feel very strongly about privatization of ATC,” he noted. “I’m not sure what problem they’re trying to fix with ATC right now, because ATC I think has always worked pretty darn good. But there is going to be a pinch-point in busy airspace with spacing and routing, [and] it will be important for us to maintain access.”

Baker also encouraged CJP members to become active in advocacy efforts on the local level, including support for AOPA’s “Rusty Pilots” program aimed at bringing GA pilots who haven’t flown in a while back into the cockpit. AOPA’s popular Regional Fly-Ins also offer a chance for experienced pilots to engage with their local communities, including students who might be considering aviation careers.

Following his presentation, Baker was also presented with CJP’s Crystal Eagle award, “in thanks for everything you do for general aviation,” said CJP Executive Director Andrew Broom.