Aviation News


ATC Reform: The President’s Push for the Privatization of Air Traffic Control

Yesterday it was announced that the President’s 2018 Budget includes plans to privatize Air Traffic Control in an effort to meet the increasing costs and pressures facing the air travel industry and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) head on. He intends this reform to be non-profit and non-governmental, in hopes that the organization can respond more organically and efficiently to the ever-evolving demand for air travel and air space usage.

Privatized air traffic management is not a new idea. According to the official White House presser, “Sixty countries have successfully “spun-off” their day-to-day air traffic management responsibilities from government agencies to corporations. For example, Canada successfully privatized its air traffic management functions more than 20 years ago and has realized numerous benefits. The non-profit NAV Canada corporation the world’s second-largest air navigation service provider, has improved safety, retained the same rates for customer charges over the past 17 years, rebuilt infrastructure, and developed cutting-edge air traffic technology.”
At the foundation of this 2018 plan for reform, is the 2016 AIRR Act (Aviation Innovation, Reform and Reauthorization Act of 2016) which was commenced by Transportation Committee chairman Bill Schuster. The Trump administration views the Shuster-authored Act as a great launching point, because:
“The AIRR Act advances several critical concepts that any final piece of legislation should include:
1. A non-profit, independent corporation is the best model to deliver air traffic services in a safe, efficient, and innovative manner.
2. A board of directors that represents all users of the National Airspace System will better align air traffic services to customer demands.
3. A fee structure that allows aviation users to pay the cost of the services to the air navigation service provider is a more efficient funding model than the current mix of excise taxes.”
Ultimately, the privatized model is intended to meet the demand air travel of the modern era, compared to the current governmental model which was established according to Trump as quoted by Fox News, “when the country had about 100,000 annual airline passengers, compared to nearly 1 billion today.’

(Image by NYCAviation Senior Editor Ben Granucci)

About the Author

Stephanie Gehman



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  • Doug Betts

    “A board of directors that represents all users of the National Airspace System” This is a horrible bill of goods that is being spouted by Schuster, the airlines, and the White House. This board of directors will be dominated by the airlines, with next to no representation by other non-airline users. Hugely important air traffic control changes will only be made that clearly benefit the airlines, crowding out any concerns of corporate and general aviation, known as Part 91 operations. Please report a true picture of what this wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing represents. The United States is NOT Canada. While I admire Nav Canada and what our friends to the north have accomplished, it is naive to assume that because privatization may be working in another location, that it would be the equivalent here. This needs to be fully exposed, the potential good and the bad, for what it is. This is all about the money and the airlines full-court press to control air traffic control for their own benefit. The airlines spend no money on their fleet capabilities unless forced to do so. Just look at the airlines implementation of GPS navigation in their fleet. From a recent CNN article on the subject:
    “Airlines may want the FAA to modernize faster, but most of their planes aren’t even ready for a GPS system. Today, none of Southwest Airlines (LUV)’ fleet is ready to switch to a GPS system, and only 10% of the fleet at American (AMERICAN AIRLINES) is ready. That figure is 25% for Alaska Airlines and Virgin America, and 30% at JetBlue (JBLU)”

    If this poorly thought through proposal goes into effect, it will truly be a case of the fox guarding the hen house.

    • Phil Derner

      This was a fact based news article, and specifically did not dive into any of the interpretation or opinions associated with the topic. But stay tuned to some opinion pieces that we have coming up over the coming days (and weeks!) that share other perspectives.

      -Phil, NYCA Founder