Trump Announces Plan to Privatize Nation’s Air Traffic Control

President Trump announced Monday a plan to privatize the nation’s air traffic control system — a move that would remove the job of tracking and guiding airplanes from the purview of the Federal Aviation Administration.

“Today we’re proposing to take American air travel into the future, finally,” Trump said.

The nation’s air traffic control system was designed when far fewer people flew, Trump said, calling it “stuck, painfully, in the past.” He also called the system “ancient, broken, antiquated” and “horrible” and said his reforms would make it safer and more reliable.

The FAA has worked to upgrade its system, but Trump and other critics say it was taking far too long. “Honestly, they didn’t know what the hell they were doing,” Trump said. “A total waste of money.”

Privatization of air traffic control is an idea long supported by most of the commercial airlines. Executives from those companies joined the president at the White House to announce the plan.

Guided by legislation that has been proposed in the past by House Transportation Committee chairman Bill Shuster, a private, nonprofit corporation would be created to operate, manage and control air traffic control nationwide, similar to what Canada does. The FAA would still have some oversight capacity, but a board made up mostly of representatives of the major airlines would govern this corporation.

The air traffic controllers’ union is generally supportive of the proposal, as it sees the current FAA air traffic control system as somewhat inefficient. The Shuster plan would still allow for the controllers to be part of the union.

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SOURCE: NPR, David Schaper