23 thoughts on “ATC Privatization: Plane & Pilot Readers’ Views

  1. There are many examples of the government turning over something to save money only to find they are at the mercy of rising costs by a contractor. Reduced service and rising costs coupled with no accountability will be the only outcome.

  2. Why not link to the “plan” that you infer has reached some state of completeness? Your stance on this topic has been knee- jerk at best and hysterical on the whole. What you’re not saying – the buried lead – is that many GA pilots don’t want to pay for the services they receive.

  3. A whole lot of people with more flight time and Aviation Experience think we should keep what we have . No harm in trying to improve a situation, but in this case it works pretty well. Regards

  4. Would we hand over control of the Interstate highway system to a private trucking company, and trust that they would see to the concerns of the average car driver? Of course not! Privatizing gain and socializing risk is a recipe for disaster.

  5. Alaska FAA still runs the flight service stations in that great state. Wonder why, well
    the pilots and people of Alaska convinced their U.S. Senator and Congress representatives
    that it was not in the best interest that they liked what they had knowing how much the
    U.S. Government screwed up when they semi-privatized the U.S. Postal System, and the
    highly cost to the taxpayers in all transportation be it land, sea or air that they have tried
    to run, it is a mess. We do not want to see the major airlines over see the ATC system
    and increase the cost of trying to provide better service than we now have. It is the best
    safest and best in the world. It is not broken or antiquated so why screw it up by turning
    it over the control of the airlines?
    When the FAA was know as the FAA Agency and had control of its own budget that is when the modernization of the ATC system started and resulted in making it the best
    of the best, which it still is!

  6. Like most things it is best to keep what is working well and spend our energy and on improving what needs improvement. What we have now works darn well!

  7. As a 35+ year retired air traffic controller and active ATP I support the move to privatize. Most people have no idea the wasteful spending that goes on within the FAA. Shameful.

    We as tax payers need to demand better

  8. We are already paying for the services via the fuel tax. What we don’t want is an aviation system run by the airlines with little to no GA consideration, which is precisely what has been proposed in the current “plan”. Inevitably, this will result in increased costs and reduced services for GA.

  9. The “magic of the marketplace” that is touted as a key advantage of privatization doesn’t work in the system proposed because it is a non-profit organization and competition is prohibited by law. The chief argument for the privatized approach is reliable access to funding, but money borrowed by a private operator would come with interest charges and those costs would be passed on to the customer base. That would increase the cost of the system. The major flaws with our current system reside in Congress, not with the FAA. If Congress would appropriate funds for federal agencies through regular order, the FAA would have adequate resources to complete their NextGen upgrades without relying on a fee for use structure. Any effort to privatize would inevitably refocus spending on airports with the most use, denying funding to many small GA airports across the country. Loss of those airports would further weaken the national aviation infrastructure and would make it harder for aspiring pilots to find places to train and learn the skills needed by tomorrow’s commercial aviation network.

  10. If Mr. Nardulli is involved with aviation he should know that GA pilots do pay for the services they receive through their aircraft fuel purchases.

  11. We were certainly sceptical before Canada privatized our Air Navigation System, but the result has been just fine.

  12. Dear Mr. Nardulli,

    Here is a link to the complete text of H.R. 2997, also called the 21st Century AIRR Act: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/2997/text. This bill has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and contains provisions “to transfer operation of air traffic services currently provided by the Federal Aviation Administration to a separate not-for-profit corporate entity…” Many general and business aviation pilots and organizations have expressed concerns about this bill, specifically regarding the lack of Congressional oversight, unbalanced representation, increased cost to our government and potential for restricted access to airspace and services. If you are interested in learning more about where those concerns are coming from, a good resource is http://www.atcnotforsale.com.

    All the best,

    Kate O’Connor
    Associate Editor, Plane & Pilot

  13. Pilots are generally a risk-adverse lot. That’s a quality that often keeps us alive. So it is no surprise that general aviation and recreational pilots in the US would rather deal with ‘the devil they know’ than gamble with something that is only an abstract concept at this stage. I should know—I was an adamant opponent of the creation of NAV Canada back in the ‘90s. Since then, however, I have found little to complain about. In fact, on the contrary, the government (Canadian) of the day went on to kill a lingering budget deficit and turn the economy around.

  14. Great service now. Would be unreasonable to offer over a great ATC network to privatization. NO WOULD DRIVE AFFORDABILITY FOR US SMALL GA, OUT THE WINDOW.

  15. I too was worried when Canadian ATC was privatised; although as a pilot in an highly urban area, I feel that the service was not compromised at all. That said, the current proposals for U.S. ATC are completely different from the model that was used to create NavCanada. NavCanada purchased the infrastructure from the Canadian Government (CAD$1.5billion). NavCanada has no shareholders; there are 10 stakeholder board members: 4 from Air Carriers, 3 from the Federal Government, 2 from the NavCanada unions and 1 from General Aviation. These 10 then elect 4 members with no ties to any of the other stakeholders. The 14 members choose a president rounding the board of directors to 15. There are many other details but the model was designed to insure that no single stake holder can control the corporation. Point to NavCanada in support of the concept of ATC privatisation if you like; but, look carefully at the details before using it to support the current initiatives in U.S. ATC privatisation.

  16. If you read the bill, you would realize that what is being proposed is RADICALLY different from the Canadian model. Once the board of directors is initially formed, they are specifically allowed to change ALL the rules, including the makeup of the board itself, and the funding model of the ATC system. All this without any recourse to Congress, the FAA, or anyone else. Who was the sage who said “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”? While I might be in favor of privatization in some form (aka – the Canadian model seems “acceptable” to me, at least on initial review), this proposal is absolute madness. As someone else pointed out, it’s like turning complete control over the nation’s entire road infrastructure to three or four of the largest interstate trucking companies, and expecting that the potholes on your hometown street will still be repaired… Nope – we would continue to have great interstate and primary highways, but everything else would fall into ruin because those trucking firms don’t care about them, since they don’t drive there…

  17. While I am generally not a proponent of governmental efficiency, privatization of the ATC system would be disastrous.
    The airline industry keeps trying to cram more and more seats on each plane, have had notable public customer service lapses, have computer systems that crash from time to time, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, were in charge of security on 9/11.
    Keep and modernize what we currently have.

  18. In Australia privitisation occured by setting up an independent company Airservices Australia who charges a fee for every call made to ATC dring an IFR flight. Costs has escalated significantly and GA airport privatization has enabled airport operators to increase their fees and lower service standards by closing runways and using the land for commercial development The same may happen in the States

  19. I received a letter from my local congressman, Rob Woodall, who is on the Committee on Transportation Infrastructure, in response to my voicing concerns over the ATC bill. His response today 10/16/2017 is that the House Transportation Infrastructure Committee passed HR 2997. “While you and I might not see eye-to-eye on each and every policy solution in HR 2997,” he says, “I will remember your input, knowledge and experience.” The key phrase in Woodall’s letter was “ensuring the efficiency of our aviation system.” Efficiency.
    If there is more money to be made marginalizing general aviation, that’s what will happen.

  20. The airlines can’t run their own companies. Who they kidding thinking they know what is best for ATC?

  21. Other than the inability of Congress to pass a long-term allocation for system upgrades, I have yet to hear of any actual problem that this proposal will fix, and it sure smells like a disaster. What will anybody other than the airlines gain from this $100 billion boondoggle?

    I guess that since Bill Shuster, the Congressman who wrote the bill, is sleeping with lead lobbyist for the group advocating ATC corporatization, we know what he will get, but that just another reason for everyone else to be very afraid.

  22. “We have to pass it to find out what’s in it!” – Sound familiar?

    How about the FAA reauthorization amendment (2012) that has stifled the industry with a ridiculous 1500 hour requirement for F/O’s, and my favorite part – Pilots must have experience in adverse weather conditions (I train my students to avoid icing conditions in a non-known-icing aircraft, not seek it out)! On the back of a horrific crash (Colgan / Buffalo), the true culprit to that abomination is extremely likely to be ALPA lobbyists. Who’s fooled? Congress is debating the issue of revising those rules – the argument against revision – we don’t want to sacrifice safety – how soon we forget that the pilots from that particular crash exceeded those standards that were put into place after the fact!

    Lets quit breaking a system that worked so well, and consider repairing what is ACTUALLY broken! ATC services have worked well for me, and I’ve heard no complaints from my colleagues that fly for the airlines.

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