Wither the FAA? Have your say!
There is a strong trend across America that says anything that is currently being done by our government can be more efficiently done by private industry. But in one particular situation currently being considered would have a major impact on the flying community. Privatizing the FAA’s ATC functions has been proposed for a second time by the chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) to decidedly mixed reviews. This issue has become a significant part in the new infrastructure policy.
President Trump has described the FAA as “ an ancient, broken, antiquated, horrible system that doesn’t work ”. He further commented that this privatization would “… reduce wait times, increase route efficiency, and result in far fewer delays.”
A survey of voters reported that over 60 percent of voters interviewed, oppose privatizing the air traffic control system and turning it over to a nonprofit corporation. Approximately 26 percent of those surveyed supported such a plan, surveyor Global Strategy Group reported. Similar legislation proposed in 2016, found little support in Congress and significant opposition. However the idea is supported by many in the airline industry and not insignificantly the air-traffic controllers union.
Opponents to the privatization suggest that what’s needed instead is the implementation of a new technology called NextGen which would represent a shift from land based to a satellite, GPS-based system. Interestingly Representative Shuster says his goal is to modernize equipment and training for air traffic controllers. Shuster explained, “It ends decades of wasteful spending on failed programs and broken promises,” Shuster said. “It gets Washington out of the way of innovation in aviation.”
Representative Shuster’s privatization bill is a top priority of the airline industry and has been made a significant part of the new high profile infrastructure renewal plan. Shuster further explained that the board that will lead this new entity is balanced among industry interests with a goal of better reflecting the interests of the travelers. The FAA, he assured doubters, will still oversee safety issues.
The focus on the issue will intensified in September when the deadline for reauthorizing the FAA arrives, requiring legislative action. Chances are the funding debate will be at its peak then. The question of both modernization strategy and privatization yes or no, will fall smartly into Congresses lap.
Michael Boyd of Boyd Group International (an aviation strategist) views it this way; “Air Traffic Control Privatization. An Idea, Not A Panacea. After three decades of empty promises, failed programs,
and missed deadlines, taking the system away from the Federal Aviation Administration is just good business – if it is done right, which means leaving all of the FAA baggage behind.” He has also said ”Simply stated, it’s inefficient, poorly managed, and the Federal Aviation Administration has an unrivaled three decades of failure in bringing the system into the future.”
Conversely the AOPA representing the interests of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association has come out in opposition to the ATC privatization. Worrying that the airline industry will capture and control the agenda and dictate policies at the expense of general aviation and rural communities. AOPA is calling upon its membership to weigh in, what is your thinking? Privatize the FAA? Or some other solution. We’d be very interested in hearing your opinion. Premier Jet Training wants to know your opinion.