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ICYMI: Get U.S. air-traffic control out of the 1960s

Washington, DC, April 20, 2017 | Justin Harclerode (202) 225-9446 | comments
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In case you missed it, please read this Orlando Sentinel column by Robert Poole, the Reason Foundation’s director of transportation policy, on the importance of a modern 21st century aviation system for America.

Poole writes: “For pilots and passengers, better air traffic-control technology would mean shorter lines for planes waiting to take off, more direct routes between cities, and fewer delays for planes waiting to land. That would result in shorter trip times, less fuel used and fewer emissions.”


Get U.S. air-traffic control out of the 1960s

By Robert Poole
Guest Columnist

April 18, 2017

National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn was recently discussing President Trump’s goal of improving America’s infrastructure when he said reforming “air-traffic control is probably the single most exciting thing we [the U.S.] can do.”

The proposal Cohn refers to would modernize the nation’s air-traffic-control system, but has generated debate because it would convert the air-traffic system from today’s taxpayer-funded organization run by the Federal Aviation Administration into a self-funded nonprofit corporation, where all aviation stakeholders — passengers, airlines, airports, controllers and pilots — would be represented on a board of directors.

This air-traffic corporation idea was proposed by the Clinton administration in 1994 and revived after the 2013 federal budget “sequester” imposed spending cutbacks on air-traffic-control operations. Today’s proposal has the support of numerous former leaders of the FAA and Department of Transportation, as well as most major airlines, the air traffic controllers’ union, business groups, and the White House.

Why is this proposal being considered? Air-traffic control is a fast-moving, high-tech service business. It’s a poor fit for a slow-moving government regulatory agency whose funding is subject to the political whims of Congress.

The U.S. air-traffic system is the world’s largest, but technologically it lags other countries that have already implemented digital messaging, GPS flight tracking, and newer alternatives to the 1960s-era systems still found in U.S. air-traffic facilities.

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Tags: Aviation