President Trump issues new call to spin off ATC

The president of the United States used National Air Traffic Control Day to underline his administration’s continuing intention to spin off the Air Traffic Organisation from the Federal Aviation Administration, reviving a legislative bid that failed to get congressional support earlier this year.

In a presidential message on July 6, President Donald Trump said that last year, air traffic controllers in the United States oversaw the safe movement of aircraft carrying more than 840 million passengers.

“Given the important responsibility air traffic controllers have to ensure the safety of millions of travellers and tons of cargo,” the US premier said, “their vital role in transportation safety and our economy cannot be overstated,” adding, “that is why my administration continues to pursue the modernisation of our nation’s air traffic control services.”

“Making targeted investments in next generation technology systems will improve the delivery of air traffic control services for the benefit of the travelling public. We must ensure that air traffic controllers have access to the technology they need to effectively and efficiently manage our nation’s airspace.”

The Trump administration’s intention to spin off ATC services into a non-profit entity features in a recently published 132-page plan to streamline the nation’s transport department although the proposal has met with heavy opposition by business and general aviation groups.

Air Traffic Management columnist Bob Poole, a long time supporter of ATC corporatisation, told the Washington Examiner that the White House’s push may result in the Senate proposing that air traffic control be moved to a stand-alone agency within the Department of Transportation.

Poole said he doesn’t believe air traffic control reform could happen separate from an FAA reauthorisation bill, however. “An exception might be a national crisis in which reform would be necessary, or if Republicans maintain control of both chambers of Congress after the 2018 midterm elections and insert the air traffic control reform into a sweeping government reorganization package,” he said.

 

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