Pilots, Congress weigh on Trump's plan to privatize air traffic control

On Monday, President Donald Trump announced plans to overhaul the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) by privatizing air traffic control.

The President railed against previous efforts by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to upgrade air traffic control and offered few other details about his promised $1tn infrastructure programme, The Guardian reports.

For air-traffic controlling purposes, the FAA divides the skies into three altitude levels; air traffic controllers based in New Hampshire have a hand in all three, according to a 2015 FAA tally on air traffic controller staffing. But critics say the radar and radio tech it uses to do that is outdated.

"This new entity will not need taxpayer money, which is very shocking when people hear that", President Trump said in a Monday news conference.

"At its core, our new plan will dramatically improve America's air traffic control system by turning it over to a self-financing, nonprofit organisation".

"Seize this opportunity - because if you don't, we're gonna come, and you're not gonna like it", U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster said.

Democrats have largely opposed the changes, warning that airline interests would dominate the proposed board, overseeing an estimated 300 air traffic facilities and around 30,000 employees.

McQueen says the idea of privatizing air-traffic control has been raised periodically since at least the Clinton administration, and it has both advocates and opponents in the industry. Even under a congressional privatization plan, the FAA would continue to provide safety oversight of the system.

However, others in the industry have not been as keen.

Meanwhile, small airports are concerned high user fees will favor large airlines and make it more hard for private pilots to fly. "All but our largest airports nationwide stand to be hurt by this proposal", Moran said.

Democrats have also pointed to the unprecedented safety under the current system and noted repeated computer system failures in recent years by US airlines, questioning whether they are ready to handle complex technology modernizations. As reported by Bloomberg, groups representing private plane manufacturers have expressed concern smaller airports may be overlooked and see a fall in service. So that's another point that has to be looked at: "How would they regulate the funding for this from the standpoint of not making the fees so onerous that it damages the aviation system?" Now is the time to unleash the American aviation spirit once again. "Canada, as an example, modernized their air traffic control through a non-government organization about 20 years ago, and they have cut costs significantly, adopted cutting-edge technology, and handled 50 percent more traffic - and actually, far more than that on a relative basis compared to us".

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