Rep. John Katko backs Trump plan to privatize air traffic control system


"Since the early days of commercial air service, the federal government has owned and operated the US air traffic control system; yet, more than a half a century later, the government is still using much of the same outdated technology", Trump said. Simply put, general aviation in America is the envy of the world. Even under a congressional privatization plan, the FAA would continue to provide safety oversight of the system, the AP reported.

"We live in a modern age, but our air traffic control system is stuck, painfully, in the past", he said at a White House event attended by current and former transportation department officials.

Separating air traffic control from the FAA has been discussed for decades.

User fees could be charged to passengers under the proposal. "In addition, the system must safeguard the current Federal Aviation Administration employer-employee relationship that has proven fundamental to the safety of US air transportation", Alpa stated.

Farenthold says airlines would probably have to pay a fee for the service, and that fee would likely get passed on to flyers, but Farenthold says flyers would still save money because of the reduced taxes.

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.

His proposal drew immediate criticism from Democrats, who said it would hand control of a key asset to special interests and big airlines.

Under the new guidelines, the Trump administration proposes allowing a self-financing, non-profit organisation to take over air traffic control systems, ensuring taxpayer money is not required for it.

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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.

The union representing the air traffic control workers said in a statement that they will review the details of the proposal before deciding to support the plan or not.

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said instituting an independent entity to help transform the FAA will help the ATC "separate from the red tape" and in turn "end a cycle of delay and disruption".

"There does not appear to be conclusive evidence that any of these models is either superior or inferior to others or to existing government-run air traffic services, including FAA, with respect to productivity, cost effectiveness, service quality, and safety and security", the report said. He held up narrow slips of paper, describing the United States as "far behind" other countries.

Airlines have been lobbying vigorously for the change, saying the FAA's NextGen program to modernize the air traffic system is taking too long and has produced too few benefits.

"The system will be much more quick to respond - be able to buy new equipment and not be tied up with appropriations from Congress to keep it running", said aviation expert Mark Weinkrantz.

The White House plan will make its way to Congress, where it faces an uncertain fate.

"[Shuster] will have the same problem he did last time", Oregon Democrat Rep. Peter DeFazio told the Washington Post. While Trump hasn't revealed his full plan yet, if it resembles Shuster's plan (Trump's administration says it does), fees paid by passenger and cargo airlines will cover the costs- and there's no guarantee that airlines won't pass those costs onto customers. The administration is seeking congressional approval for the increased spending.