U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday moved to privatize the U.S. air traffic control system, as part of a larger scheme to improve the country’s infrastructure.
“We’re proposing to take American air travel into the future”.
The FAA, Trump said, would not be focused predominantly on flight safety. “Other than that, it’s quite good”. “A total waste of money”, he added.
Privatization of air traffic control is an idea long supported by most of the commercial airlines. In 2016, a bill introduced by Transportation Committee Chairman Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Penn.) helped revive the calls for a shift.
The major domestic carriers all support the privatization plan, with the notable exception of Delta Air Lines.
These comments were surprising given the fact that the American system handles orders of magnitude more traffic than any other in the world at efficiency and safety levels and costs per operation that are second to none.
The current FAA-run air traffic control system has faced criticism over the pace of its transition from a land-based radar system to a satellite-based, digital system, overseen by a program called NextGen.
FAA Administrator Michael P.
The FAA spends almost $10 billion a year on air traffic control, paid for largely through passenger user fees, and has spent more than $7.5 billion on next-generation air traffic control reforms in recent years. As part of their desire for a small government, Republicans believe that giving control to the private sector will stimulate what they view as desperately needed modernization.
Trump’s plan would move the air traffic control system to a non-profit corporation operated by a board made up of airline, union and airport officials.
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association, a union representing almost 20,000 air-traffic controllers and other aviation safety-related professionals, supported Shuster’s 2016 legislation.
The White House could win support in Congress especially with the backing of key interest groups, including the airlines and the air traffic controllers union.
“The president of the United States just stood up today and said this is something we ought to do”, Shuster told reporters after Trump’s announcement. Chao will again address the issue before the House Transportation Committee on Thursday. “You don’t actually need to be there”.
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President Donald Trump on Monday unveiled his proposal to hand over control of the USA air-traffic control system to a non-profit corporation, calling the current system an antiquated mess that doesn’t work and wastes money.
Trump said that “the previous administration spent over $7 billion to upgrade the system and totally failed” – a claim that FAA officials reject. “Handing air traffic control over to a private entity partly governed by the airlines is both a risk and liability we can’t afford to take”. Here’s NPR’s David Schaper.
Almost all interests agree the nation’s air traffic control system is safe but antiquated, relying on radar while other nations long ago started using GPS. He also said that the privatization plan would save consumers money by reducing flight delays and wait times. “And then you get to the Senate, and they have pretty much said, ‘We are not interested in this'”. The Trump administration also said that the new system would be safer, arguing that separating air traffic control and the FAA would allow for better oversight.
Proposed legislation includes the creation of a non-profit corporation controlled by a 13-member board with representation from the major airlines and the broader aviation community.