ATC Privatization: Congress risks national security and U.S. aviation

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

America is an aerospace nation and flying is its life’s blood. Management of this precious resource is the responsibility of our air traffic control (ATC) system, and our ATC is the envy of the free world — the safest and most capable such organization on the globe.

The Department of Defense relies on the Federal Aviation Administration for air defense and national security. The National Capital Region, for example, relies on ATC to search and identify air threats before summoning DoD and U.S. Customs aircraft to intercept.

Congress is in discussions to dismantle the ATC structure and governance, and replace it with a nonprofit corporation. In the background, major airlines and special interest groups are leading an effort to seize control of our air traffic system and align it with their priorities. DoD would have less input, while smaller aviation actors and general aviation would likely be treated with the same care the airlines have for their passengers’ baggage.

Specifically, Congress is considering an ATC privatization proposal in the form of a six-year reauthorization of the FAA, the 21st century Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act. This risks surrendering one of our nation’s most valuable commodities to private hands.

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