"Commercialized" Air Traffic Control Bad For GA, AOPA Says...

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GAO Report Scrutinized

A recent report (PDF file) by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) previously reported by AVweb said safety remains intact when governments shift their air traffic control duties to the private sector. But that may not be telling the whole story, AOPA said last week. The report evaluated the "commercialized" ATC systems in Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, but limited its safety study to data on direct measures such as loss of separation, AOPA said. "GAO did not consider indirect safety impacts, such as pilots declining to use services because of the extraordinary costs charged by some of these systems," said Andy Cebula, AOPA senior vice president of government and technical affairs. The five foreign systems combined handle an average of about 14.5 million aircraft operations a year. Just five of the FAA's 22 air route traffic control centers handle more traffic than that, AOPA said. The whole U.S. system handles nearly 94 million operations a year.