Other Views: Trump's air-traffic spinoff would be great flight forward

US President Donald Trump announced modernisation of the country's "outdated" air traffic control system to help reduce wait time, increase route efficiency and safety and ensure fewer delays. Trump is right that while "every passenger has GPS technology in their pockets, our air-traffic control system still runs on radar", circa 1945.

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said that officials had spoken with air industry representatives and they feel that it is necessary for Congress - currently controlled by the Republicans - to move now to push the proposal through. Shuster's bill, which passed a House committee past year but didn't make it to the House floor, would convert the air traffic system from today's taxpayer-funded organization run by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) into a self-funded, nonprofit corporation where all aviation stakeholders - passengers, airlines, airports, controllers, and pilots - would be represented on a board of directors.

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. In addition to controllers, the FAA employs specialists, engineers, and technicians, numbering in the tens of thousands, who work to maintain the air traffic control technology and the infrastructure necessary to keep air travel safe. Trump's plan would impose user fees on all levels of general aviation.

Some airlines, such as Southwest and Alaska Airlines, have long advocated privatization of the air traffic control system. As reported by Bloomberg, groups representing private plane manufacturers have expressed concern smaller airports may be overlooked and see a fall in service.

But some groups have been critical of efforts to privatize air traffic control operations, saying it gives the airlines too much control over the system for their own benefit. And lawmakers are uneasy about giving regulatory authority to a private organization. "But 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".




Critics also fear government bureaucracy.

Potentially privatizing air traffic control in the U.S. is more about politics.

Tell us what you think.

Trump added that the current United States air traffic control system is not prepared to deal with innovation and is plagued by "unacceptable delays", which cost "billions" of dollars each year and constitute an economic burden to the nation. Sound off in the comments section below and share your thoughts.

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