President Trump said this morning that he would push for privatization of Air Traffic Control, taking the nearly 30,000 employees from under the authorization of the FAA in what is referred to as his “Air Traffic Control Reform Initiative.”
The proposal is not a new idea. Much of Trump’s plan seems to be taken from Rep. Schuster’s AIRR Act, introduced last year as an update of the FAA Reauthorization Act. The AIRR Act was unable to pass the Senate, and Congress passed an interim bill extending FAA Authorization until the fall.
Trump has been sharply critical of the FAA and chief administrator Michael Huerta, earlier this year saying that the FAA’s NextGen program was “out of whack,” and commenting that he’d like to see a pilot in the Administrator position. In this morning’s speech, Trump said that the air traffic control system was “ancient, broken, antiquated, horrible.” Calling previous efforts to update systems a “waste of money,” Trump said, “Honestly, they didn’t know what the hell they were doing.”
The Air Traffic Control Reform Initiative would create an independent, non-governmental organization which will be self-funded and, said Trump, will result in “cheaper, faster, and safer air travel” by providing the best systems available. The President says that Canada’s similar system has shown that they can “reduce costs and increase convenience” for the country.
While the call for all new systems and a complete overhaul of the Air Traffic Control infrastructure may come as good news for some, the impact on efforts by the FAA and the drone industry to fully integrate drones into the system within the next few years is difficult to judge.
Many airlines and the Air Traffic Controllers support the change, since government shutdowns during the previous administration caused Air Traffic Controllers to experience significant losses in pay and hours. The Senate’s refusal to pass a similar bill last year makes it unclear if the President’s proposal will receive enough support to become a reality.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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