Trump Administration targets ATC once again through planned federal government overhaul

President’s Trump Administration is to revisit efforts to spin off air traffic control services from the US Federal Aviation Administration as part of a larger proposal to radically overhaul federal government.
As part of a 132-page plan to streamline the Department of Transportation, the proposal calls for the FAA to spin off ATC services into a non-profit entity, reviving a bid that failed to get congressional support in the FAA reauthorisation bill passed earlier this year
Despite most US major airlines strongly supporting the bid, the proposal has again met with heavy opposition by members of six business and general aviation groups.
The White House’s plan reasons – as it did before – that a reformed ATC system would be more efficient and better insulated from politics, would be funded by fees based on actual usage of the airspace system and would align with more than 60 countries that effectively license non governmental organisations to control air traffic services such as Nav Canada.
Six associations representing the general aviation industry on June 20 issued a statement strongly opposing its inclusion in its government reorganisation proposal.
“There is a large and diverse chorus of opposition to the idea of privatising our air traffic control system, including congressional leaders from both political parties, more than 100 aviation organisations, over 100 business leaders, 100 US mayors, consumer and agricultural groups, conservative think tanks, and the majority of Americans. Additionally, this concept has been fully considered in the US Congress and rejected despite years of repeated attempts,” said AOPA, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Experimental Aircraft Association, Helicopter Association International, National Air Transportation Association, and National Business Aviation Association.
“Instead of focusing precious time and resources on what amounts to nothing more than a distraction to the aviation community, the Administration needs to support a long-term FAA bill, like those passed by the House of Representatives and now pending in the Senate. These bills will take practical and significant steps to address many critical issues like aviation safety, modernization, which includes accelerated advancement of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), and needed aircraft certification and regulatory reform. Additionally, the Department of Transportation needs to continue with its commitment to the NextGen Advisory Committee (NAC), which fosters collaboration in an open and transparent manner and helps advance air traffic control modernization priorities and investments.
“We are disappointed that the Administration continues to reintroduce a failed proposal. Instead, it should put its weight behind FAA legislation pending in Congress that will advance the aviation industry, including general aviation, which contributes $219 billion to the U.S. economy and creates over one million jobs in the U.S.”
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Airlines for America, the major association of US airlines, said in a statement: “While there is no consensus on how to deliver these reforms in Congress, we applaud the Administration’s focus and recognition that the challenges of our air traffic control system haven’t gone away. The need for reform will only grow with more people flying than ever before. This proposal recognizes that the status quo isn’t getting the job done.”
Any plan to restructure ATC would need approval by Congress. In February, House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster dropped his proposal to separate the ATC system from the federal government after significant resistance by both the Senate and most Democrats.