Pres. Trump to embrace privatization of air traffic control system

Arguing that "it's time to join the future", Trump pushed for the separation of air traffic control operations from the Federal Aviation Administration, adopting an approach long championed by USA airlines.

He said the Canadian air traffic operations are fully digitized, compared to National Airport where controllers still use a manual system with cards to line up flights.

While the call for all new systems and a complete overhaul of the Air Traffic Control infrastructure may come as good news for some, the impact on efforts by the FAA and the drone industry to fully integrate drones into the system within the next few years is hard to judge.

"After billions and billions of tax dollars spent, and the many years of delays, we're still stuck with an ancient, broken, antiquated, terrible system that doesn't work", Trump said.

Trump laid out the intended plan for the privatization of air traffic control.

The plan has drawn appraises from former transportation secretaries, who lauded the move as the "right solution for the 21st century".

The FAA spends almost $10 billion a year on air traffic control, paid for largely through passenger user fees, and has spent more than $7.5 billion on next-generation air traffic control reforms in recent years.

Paul Hudson, group president and longtime member of the FAA Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee, stated, "Adopting this scheme would mean handing the airlines (for free) control over a core public asset, and providing them almost unbridled power to extract new fees and increased taxes from passengers". The president endorsed spinning off air-traffic control from the Federal Aviation Administration, a decades-old idea that would improve passenger experience and safety.

Image credit Saab Group
Image credit Saab Group

President Trump wants to fill the gap with fees which airplane operators would have to pay every time a flight needs air traffic control.

Under the current system, air traffic control is operated by the Federal Aviation Administration, the civil aviation arm of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Meanwhile, small airports are concerned high user fees will favor large airlines and make it more hard for private pilots to fly. During that trip, members viewed air traffic control operations at the Ottawa airport. "All but our largest airports nationwide stand to be hurt by this proposal", Moran said. He may also talk more broadly Monday about what he has called "third world airports" in particular, as he launches what the White House is calling the president's "infrastructure week".

The administration hopes to win congressional approval to spend an additional $200 billion tax dollars on infrastructure in the coming years, administration officials said.

Shuster sheparded his bill through the Transportation Committee previous year, but it didn't advance from the House.

Critics of the plan have also questioned the White House's assertion that the plan will make passengers safer, pointing to the airlines' history of computer system failures and the risk that goes along with adopting a complex new satellite system.

Under the President's plan the switch-over from a public to private system would take about three years.

  • Zachary Reyes