Could privatizing air traffic control cost passengers more?

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"We live in a modern age and yet our air traffic control system is stuck painfully in the past", President Donald Trump said at a White House event announcing his plan to modernize America's aging air traffic control system. Instead of taxes, the outfit would be funded by user fees, which is how Canada has financed air-traffic services since 1996.

A similar FAA proposal two years ago died on the House floor, but Shuster said he believes Trump's election proves taxpayers want outside-the-box thinking, and Democrats would see value in a broader infrastructure package that might link some of the cities they represent. This would slow down enhancements and possibly compromise safety to fix a system that's not broken.

Opponents claim that handing over air traffic control assets, including towers, to a private organization is risky. "We look forward to reviewing the specifics of legislation". Proponents of the idea claim that privatization will ensure steady funding through user fees, as opposed to air traffic control relying on yearly appropriations from Congress. Advocates also say that privatization would bring modernization, including a move to Global Positioning System technology for precise tracking instead of the ground-based radar still in use today. On Friday, the president plans to discuss changes to rules and regulations that would expedite project construction in a meeting at the Department of Transportation.

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In an attempt to gain support for the plan, which fell short in Congress past year, the White House said the corporation's board should be insulated from industry stakeholder groups. Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Transportation Committee, said, "Government bureaucracy has held back innovation in American aviation". That's a testament to how inefficient the current system is. "For the passengers, it's better they'll get from point to point faster, and the system would be safer", he said. The administration is seeking congressional approval for the increased spending.

"In this environment, bureaucratic efforts are unlikely to succeed", Trump said in a letter to Congress, adding that "a new not-for-profit air traffic control entity that will leverage private capital" is needed. "All but our largest airports nationwide stand to be hurt by this proposal", Moran said. Over 60 countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and Spain, have self-supporting air traffic control corporations. The changes would involve moving from the current system, based on radar and voice communications, to one based on satellite navigation and digital communications.