Girardi | Keese

The Push to Privatize Makes Headway in the Aviation Industry

"FAA air traffic controllers have led one of the safest aviation programs in the world," reports ABC News. President Trump now wants the FAA to step aside.

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"I hear we're spending billions and billions of dollars," Trump said, "and it's a system that's totally out of whack."

In February, the Chicago Tribune reported on Trump's efforts to privatize and modernize the U.S. aviation industry. In a meeting at the White House, Trump referred to "obsolete" systems and airports. Airline executives apparently walked out of that meeting in high spirits.

It's likely that today their spirits remain high.

ABC News reports that Trump has outlined a proposal to privatize air traffic control:

  • A private non-profit corporation would take over air traffic control duties from the FAA
  • This non-profit would consist of 13 board members, many from major airlines
  • The end goal would be to "innovate," which in this case refers to the air traffic control system and its processes

Ultimately, supporters say this effort would lead not only to modernized air traffic control, but also to reduced costs and increased levels of customer service.

Are we sacrificing safety for innovation?

It likely is true that the current system could use updates.

The radar system harkens back to WWII-era technology and the FAA's efforts to improve - via its NextGen program - have been criticized as slow and expensive.

But as ABC News reports, FAA air traffic controllers handle around 50,000 flights every day and have presided over one of the safest aviation programs in the world. It's hard to put a price on that.

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