ATC Privatization Front And Center

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President Donald Trump will use a proposal to privatize air traffic control in the U.S. to kick off a weeklong blitz of announcements to push his infrastructure revitalization plan. At an announcement that includes an Oval Office ceremony and White House Rose Garden event on Monday morning, White House officials have confirmed Trump will affirm his plan to move air traffic control services to a not-for-profit corporation overseen by a board of directors drawn from industry, aviation groups and government. The proposal will be based on a bill introduced by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., that got a rough ride in the House, Senate and administration in 2015, but the dusted-off legislation has Trump’s enthusiastic support.

The plan is sure to evoke vigorous opposition from GA groups, particularly if, as most of the 60 countries that have privatized ATC do, it includes a system of user fees to fund it. All GA groups are united against user fees, saying the current system of excise taxes on aviation fuel is the fairest way to determine and assess participation in the system. AOPA, while it says user fees are a non-starter, has been softer in its opposition to privatization, saying the current system needs a major shakeup.

Lining up in support of privatization are most U.S. airlines, and GA groups say there’s a good reason for that. The Shuster bill envisions a governing board of directors with overwhelming representation from the airlines, who argue that as the biggest users of the system, they should have the biggest say. GA groups say that airline domination of the nation’s airways, towers and centers will push GA to the fringes of the system with less access and higher costs.

Comments (4)

Flight schools, aircraft owners and GA pilots be damned? The ongoing GA erosion converting into dilapidation? Troglodyte in chief.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | June 5, 2017 11:59 AM    Report this comment

Private Aviation will of course suffer and all the hype surrounding the Part 23 "simplifications" (which will likely accomplish nothing in regard to revitalizing private aviation) will be to no avail. Many of us will "graduate" to even "lower and slower" to stay completely out of the system...which will suit the military and commercial airlines to a tee.

Government owned "corporations" are their own disaster and will only use smoke and mirrors to generate supposed improvements.

Posted by: robert peach | June 5, 2017 12:14 PM    Report this comment

I've flown to 78 countries around the world, and every time I come home, I say "NEVER let that happen here!" Bills for "user fees" keep coming in for months after returning. (Try getting a customer to pay a bill that comes in months late).

People point to Canada--I spend a lot of time up there--same issues. In addition to the fees themselves--and the aforementioned delay in receiving a bill--Canada's system handles only 1/6 the traffic of the U.S.--and most is concentrated within a hundred miles of the border. There IS no effective ATC north of about 300 miles from the border--often, not even radio communication (you are asked to "contact Thompson Radio 100 miles out"), but they charge you for "ATC services anyway!" Many airports necessarily are restricted to "one in--one out" IFR arrivals and departures--I've waited for 40 minutes with engines running and burning fuel to get a clearance. One of the reasons that many uninformed advocates of "government corporations" give is the lower cost of ATC in Canada--usually because their infrastructure is 1960s vintage--and because Canadian controllers (who do a fine job, by the way) are paid about half of what U.S. controllers make. How do you suppose that will fit with U.S. controllers?

Rather than do away with a system that is the envy of the rest of the world (that is, "average down to THEIR levels"), if you want to cut costs, encourage the FAA to simply convert more towers to private, and leave the best system in the world alone!

The socialists insist we should "be more like the rest of the world"--despite the fact that nearly half of the aviation in the world occurs in the U.S. "Government Corporations"--think of the "success" of AMTRAK, the Post Office, Conrail, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and Obamacare. Who would want the people that gave us THOSE gems running our ATC system?

Posted by: jim hanson | June 5, 2017 6:15 PM    Report this comment

Imagine if Obama did this...

Posted by: Matt Comerford | June 6, 2017 12:19 PM    Report this comment

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