Trump Proposes To Privatize ‘Horrible’ ATC System
As expected, President Donald Trump announced on Monday that air traffic control will no longer be a government function but instead will become a “self-financing nonprofit.” Calling the change “a great new era in American aviation,” he said it will replace “an antiquated horrible system that doesn’t work.” Trump also called the current system "ancient” and “broken.” In regard to efforts to modernize that have so far been undertaken by the FAA, he said, “Honestly, they didn't know what the hell they were doing. A total waste of money." President Trump said his team studied the air traffic control systems in other countries and used one of them as a template, but he wouldn’t say which countries had been studied.
The proposal would create a board made up of airline, union and airport officials, who would oversee the nonprofit entity that would assume oversight of FAA functions after a three-year transition. Most airlines support the change. Delta opposes it, according to Reuters, saying the U.S. system is so large that privatization would not save money, would drive up ticket costs and could create a national security risk. Opponents also say technology upgrades would be sidetracked while the new system is put in place, potentially adding years before new technology can be operational.
NATCA was quick to respond to the Trump proposal, with a statement from their president, Paul Rinaldi. NATCA said it will study the legislation in detail before commenting. The union has long been supportive of a not-for-profit model for ATC that would provide a stable, predictable funding stream that adequately supports air traffic control services, and that would maintain service to all segments of aviation. AOPA President Mark Baker said his group “will not support policies that impose user fees on general aviation.” He added that “the U.S. has a very safe air traffic system today and we don’t hear complaints from our nearly 350,000 members about it.” You can watch the president's full announcement in this video, starting at about 60 minutes in. The adminstration's "principles for reforming" air traffic control are posted on the White House website.