Privatize air traffic control

President Donald Trump speaks during the Ford's Theatre Annual Gala at the Ford's Theatre in Washington Sunday

US President Donald Trump signs principles of proposed reforms to the air traffic control system during an event at the White House in Washington, DC, U.S. June 5, 2017. The Trump administration also said that the new system would be safer, arguing that separating air traffic control and the FAA would allow for better oversight.

Dismissing the current system as an anachronism, Trump said the air traffic control operations needed to be separated from the Federal Aviation Administration, an approach that USA airlines have long championed.

"For too many years our country has tolerated unacceptable delays, long wait times... and a slowing of travel that has cost us billions and billions of dollars", said Trump. Currently, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is responsible for air traffic control, however, under Trump's proposal; a not-for-profit corporation will handle air traffic control functions for the busiest airspace on the planet.

The plan has drawn appraises from former transportation secretaries, who lauded the move as the "right solution for the 21st century".

House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster proposed the ATC spin-off in a failed bill last year, and he reintroduced the proposal this year. "It's a system where everyone benefits from this", White House economic adviser Gary Cohn said in a conference call with reporters.

The letter says the groups have concerns about user fees, among other things, that are "based on our operating experiences in these foreign systems and impact they have had on general aviation".

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While both sides of the privatization debate may laud the system's clean record, critics point out its "WWII-era radar technology" and process of physically passing paper strips with an individual's aircraft information and flight plan from controller to controller.

The FAA spends almost $10 billion a year on air traffic control, funded largely through passenger user fees, and has about 28,000 air traffic control personnel.

"The president's leadership means that we can look forward to legislation that gets government out of the way so we can modernize for the future and maintain our global leadership in aviation", said Nicholas Calio, president of Airlines for America, which represents American, United, Southwest and others. When Rep. Bill Shuster (R, Pa.) put forth a plan to accomplish this in 2016, it stalled on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Trump plans to travel to Cincinnati on Wednesday to lay out his $1 trillion plan of new infrastructure investments.

The plan would create a private non-profit corporation supported by user fees rather than taxes, a model used in many other countries, including Canada.

The President's plan to privatize air traffic control at our nation's airports is being watched closely in Oklahoma City.

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