A significant question remains, however, concerning the willingness of USATS to provide funding for services to system users, such as general aviation, whose financial contributions to the system are less than the value of the services they receive.(37)
Finally, the key recommendations of the EOC for forming USATS were put forward, including the following:
* USATS will be "off budget." Any requirement that USATS annual budgets be submitted to Congress could weaken USATS authority.
* Owners and operators of small aircraft will be exempted from user fees, and will continue to pay for USATS through fuel taxes, now converted into indirect fees.(38)
USATS will operate under the direction of an eleven-member board of directors, which will include a CEO, the Secretary of Transportation, the Secretary of Defense, four commercial airline seats, and several government and union seats.
FAA will retain regulatory authority over USATS, and Congress will retain direct oversight of FAA's regulatory role, but will lose control of ATC's budget.(42) Figures 1 and 2 depict the general organizational structure among FAA, the Congress, DOT/DOD, and ATC, before and after implementation of USATS.
Balancing the incentives for safety and efficiency will be a major challenge in the final design of USATS.
Representatives of smaller users expect it to be biased in favor of large air carriers, however, and current plans do call for four of the eight at-large positions to be allocated to the airline community.(45) James Landry, ATA president, indicates, nonetheless, that airlines will withhold endorsement of USATS until more details are available on how it will be funded and governed.(46) Another factor that may cause the airlines to temper their support of the proposed concept would be the possible alienation of certain legislators who are helping airlines gain advantages in other areas, if those same legislators do not support corporatization.(47)
In addition to the committees with jurisdiction over aviation losing their turf, the plan includes the ability of USATS to issue debt, which moves USATS out of the Budget Enforcement Act.
Equally interesting is the support for corporatization offered by the Regional Airline Association (RAA) and the Airports Council International (ACI) - based on Airport Improvement Plan (AIP) funding to remain with FAA under the USATS plan.(53)
Air Traffic Services Corporation (USATS) began with the writings and research of industry experts who became aware of ATC system deficiencies and assessed the impact of the deficiencies against a growing air traffic system.
Lessons available from the USATS public debate may be equally valuable if applied to the current health care issue before Congress.