What Others are Saying
Michael Sargent, a transportation policy analyst with the Heritage Foundation's Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies, points out why the FAA should simply stick to what is does best—safety. “Primarily a risk-averse safety regulator, the agency is not well-suited to overseeing a modern, round-the-clock operation. Furthermore, it regulates itself, creating ample conflicts of interest when it comes to safety reporting. And that's not to mention how it's hampered by congressional micromanagement and political wrangling over the federal budget. These structural flaws have hindered reform.”
Philly.com, Modernization of air-traffic control system is long overdue, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 5 July 2017
Research engineer William Swelbar at MIT’s International Center for Air Transportation writes in the Columbus Post Dispatch that ATC reform could help small to mid-market airports thrive and ensure continued access to these communities: [The Administration and Congress] are now backing an overhaul of the control system in order to separate operations from the safety regulators of the Federal Aviation Administration. This effort will maintain access and services to small market airports and rural communities. Additionally, funding and management of the control system for rural communities would be more reliable and consistent once removed from the politicized appropriations process and Washington bureaucracy.
The Columbus Dispatch, William Swelbar: Revitalizing air traffic control would boost small airports, 1 July 2017
The Orange County Register sees ATC reform placing the focus back on where it should be—those who use our nation’s airspace: “The nonprofit corporation model would much better align incentives to serve customers, from airlines and private pilots to, ultimately, commercial airline passengers. Crucially, it would also depoliticize funding and operations decisions.” According to the Register, this should provide greater service at a greater value. “In that time, its air traffic control fees have fallen 40 percent while its productivity has increased. The FAA's unit cost of service, meanwhile, has increased by 66 percent during that time, even as flight operations have declined. Today, Nav Canada's cost per flight hour is 26 percent lower than the FAA's.”
Orange County Register, Air traffic control reform is long overdue, Orange County Register Editorial Board, 21 June 2017
On behalf of the traveling public, Wall Street Journal columnist Scott McCartney leads his Middle Seat Column with: “Politics aside, travelers really should want—demand—a privatized air-traffic control services provider. Many other countries have shown that it just plain works better than having a government bureaucracy directing airplanes.” McCartney sets up the case for reform with compelling benefits. “Air-traffic control, known as ATC, depends on technology. Better tools can improve safety, shorten flights, get planes out of turbulence faster and reduce delays. And privatized ATC providers in Canada, the U.K., Australia and elsewhere have shown they can modernize and continuously upgrade faster than the Federal Aviation Administration.”
Wall Street Journal, The Case for Privatizing Air Traffic Control, By Scott McCartney, 21 June 2017
Bloomberg News gets right to the point: “Done right, [ATC reform] could offer substantial benefits to weary American travelers…” The primary benefit is to accelerate the introduction of new technology—something the federal government has been unable to do for the following reasons. “The Federal Aviation Administration has for years been struggling to replace its aging radar systems with a GPS-based upgrade as part of a broader overhaul known as NextGen. Doing so could reduce delays, shorten routes, boost fuel efficiency and improve safety. But thanks in no small part to congressional disarray -- shutdown fights, furloughs, theatrical uncertainty -- the effort has been ponderous and hugely expensive.”
Bloomberg, Trump Actually Has a Point on Air-Traffic Control, By The Editors, 8 June 2017
According to the Washington Post editorial board, "...the idea [of ATC reform] has a bipartisan pedigree going back a quarter century." As the Post sees it, unreliable funding and bureaucratic processes stand in the way of an efficient running aviation system: "The main advantage of a separate, self-governing nonprofit entity is...freeing the entity to pursue much needed technological innovation without worrying about government shutdowns and other hassles."
The Washington Post, Trump Throws His Support Behind a Good Idea, By The Editorial Board, 5 June 2017
In the opinion of the USA Today, staying with the status quo by fixing the system from within has been tried and has not worked. "While the FAA has had some success, major projects have faced cost increases and schedule delays because of systemic problems." USA Today further notes America is lagging other countries like Canada, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom who have safely and successfully spun off their air traffic control systems.
USA Today, President Trump's Right. Privatize Air Traffic Control, By The Editorial Board, 5 June 2017
Chicago, home to one of the world’s busiest airports, knows what it’s talking about when it comes to reducing flight delays. According the Chicago Tribune, “The best argument for this change is the new organization would — finally — be able to provide proper funding for NextGen, the long-awaited, $40 billion air traffic system upgrade. NextGen involves switching from cumbersome radar and static-prone radios to satellite-based GPS tracking of aircraft and digital communications. This is a smarter way to fly because planes could be routed along more precise flight paths. Planes could fly safely while spaced closer together, too. The result: Passengers get to their destinations more quickly.”
The paper, makes the case that reform needs to happen outside of the government. “If run as an independent nonprofit, the air traffic control system would charge fees to airlines and other users to cover costs instead of spending tax dollars. With that steady income stream, it could go to the bond market to borrow money to help pay for the new technology. The overall benefits would add up faster than a frequent flyer racks up mileage: fewer delays for passengers, jet fuel savings for airlines and much smarter, quicker decision-making by managers freed from bureaucratic molasses.”
Chicago Tribune, Getting Washington out of the air traffic control business, By Editorial Board 5 June 2017
US News and World Report grasps the magnitude of a reformed air traffic control system. “Make no mistake: [ATC reform] would be a transformative departure from the way the United States has directed air traffic for the past eight decades and the most significant government reform in a generation.” The magazine cites compelling reasons for bi-partisan support for reform: “Unlike almost every other industrialized nation, our federal government directly operates air traffic control and funds it through a portion of our paychecks as well as the taxes we all pay each time we fly. This is inefficient and expensive and needs to change. This is a topic that should be in the spotlight of every politician, on all sides of the isle, as a matter of good public policy. Let's not wait to fix this critical piece of American infrastructure.”
US News and World Report, Air Traffic, Under Control, By Robert Puentes and Rui Neiva, 17 March 2017