President Donald Trump threw his support behind a plan to
detach the U.S. air traffic control system from the Federal Aviation Administration
and put it under the control of a nonprofit corporation. "Since the early
days of commercial air service, the federal government has owned and operated
the U.S. 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government is still using much of the same outdated technology," Trump said.
"At a time when every passenger has GPS technology in their pockets, our
air traffic control system still runs on radar and ground-based radio systems
that they don't even make anymore and they can't even fix anymore."
Trump called the ongoing, years-long transition to a
satellite-based ATC technology called Next Generation Air Transportation System
"a total waste of money." Many of the delays owe to the fact that the
FAA is at the mercy of the federal budget cycle and congressional squabbles.
That's a reason proponents support decoupling ATC from the government.
House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman
Bill Shuster proposed the ATC spin-off in a failed bill last year, and he reintroduced
the proposal this year. His bill would create a corporation governed by a
13-member board comprised of officials from various facets of the aviation
industry. The bill authorizes that corporation to impose user fees, which would
replace the current tax on airline tickets.
airlines largely have supported the plan. Detractors have argued that it gives
too much power to airlines and could result in higher fares.