Trump moves to privatise U.S. air traffic control

President Donald Trump signed a letter on Monday announcing he will move to privatize the USA air traffic control system to kick off what the Trump administration has dubbed “infrastructure week”. What would that mean for air travel? “You don’t actually need to be there”.

Republicans haven’t just hampered any progress on air traffic control, they’ve played a game of chicken with the safety of air travel, putting the flying public on the line. Data Comm is operational at 55 air traffic control towers around the country, supplementing voice communication between controllers and pilots with digital text-based messages created to make for safer, more efficient operations, as it helps aircraft take off and reach their destinations on time. Once collected, the funds are deposited into a trust fund. Congress then authorizes the use of the funds during an annual appropriations process.

Democrats have also pointed to the unprecedented safety under the current system and noted repeated computer system failures in recent years by USA airlines, questioning whether they are ready to handle complex technology modernizations.

Trump said during a White House announcement Monday that the current system is “stuck painfully in the past”.

Under the new guidelines, the Trump administration proposes allowing a self-financing, non-profit organisation to take over air traffic control systems, ensuring taxpayer money is not required for it.

“We’re proposing reduced wait times, increased route efficiency and far fewer delays”. He also called the system “ancient, broken, antiquated” and “horrible” and said his reforms would make it safer and more reliable. They argue these problems are proof that private business should not be trusted to do what’s right for passengers.

“Privatizing the largest and most complex aviation system in the world is a risky and unnecessary step at this pivotal point in its modernization”, said Mike Perrone, national president of the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, AFL-CIO (PASS), in a statement released Monday. “You look at private ATC in other countries, and it has had a tremendously negative impact on general aviation”.

The radar system still in use has its roots in World War II technology, and parts of the communications system still use paper.

What is wrong with the current air traffic control system?

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. The agency has also suffered as a result of government shutdowns and furloughs.

The Aviation Innovation Reform and Reauthorization Act is actually not new, as indicated by this article on May 13, past year (almost 12 months ago) which suggests the several reforms removes America’s air traffic control system from the Federal Aviation Administration and creates a federally chartered, nonprofit corporation. Sound off in the comments section below and share your thoughts.