Trump, Shuster back privatizing air-traffic-control system

Lawrence Kim
June 19, 2017

The FAA would continue to provide safety oversight of the system under a congressional privatization plan. Trump said, "We will launch this air travel revolution by modernizing the outdated system of air traffic control".

Currently, the FAA oversees about 50,000 flights per day.

USA airlines have been campaigning for more than two decades to separate air traffic control operations from the FAA. They base this belief on a 2001 recommendation by the International Civil Aviation Organization that said signatory states, including the USA should separate air traffic control from safety oversight.

If the GOP's plan becomes a reality, the air-traffic control system would be removed from the auspices of the Federal Aviation Administration and turned into a nongovernmental nonprofit, with a board of directors including representatives for airlines, regulators and consumer advocates.

In fact the proposal to break off the air traffic function from the government's Federal Aviation Administration was first proposed during the Clinton administration, and was revived early previous year in legislation introduced by Pennsylvania Republican Bill Shuster.

Airlines and the controllers union say that the FAA's effort to modernize the air traffic system has been slowed down by the agency's dependence on inconsistent funding from Congress and occasional government shutdowns and controller furloughs.

The air traffic control plan represents the first in a weeklong rollout of the Trump administration's infrastructure plan.

"The technology is substantially better". "At a time when every passenger has GPS technology in their pockets, our air traffic control system still runs on radar and ground-based radio systems that they don't even make anymore".

Bill Shuster, R-Pa., adopted the issue in recent years as a primary goal of his tenure as House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman and it folds nicely into Trump's agenda that has promised to use private dollars to solve the nation's aging infrastructure problems. European systems use digital communications systems, and private companies are developing new satellite systems in the hopes that the FAA will start using them.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California pointed to past opposition from both parties to privatization plans, saying it would "hand control of one of our nation's most important public assets to special interests and the big airlines".

"The United States is falling ever further behind other countries, such as Canada, that have separated their systems from government constraints, President Trump's proposal is the right solution for the 21st century", Former Transportation Secretary James Burnley said. While Trump hasn't revealed his full plan yet, if it resembles Shuster's plan (Trump's administration says it does), fees paid by passenger and cargo airlines will cover the costs- and there's no guarantee that airlines won't pass those costs onto customers.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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