Privatization of ATC – The Pros and Cons (Air Traffic Control)
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Ernest S. Arvai Posted on August 30, 2017
Privatization of Air Traffic Control has come up on almost an annual basis for the last couple of decades, and the battle has been between the airlines, who favor the concept, and general aviation, who do not. The rationale is that those who pay the most will receive the most representation in how ATC is managed, and the general aviation community fears that the airline community could restrict access to the system and create unfairness in charges. But the difference in 2017 is that ATC privatization stands a better chance of passage in Congress, and has the support of President Trump.
With the news that NavCanada was providing $60M in refunds to customers, the proponents of ATC privatization received one more arrow in their quiver of arguments regarding the topic.
The debate centers around several issues. First, whether ATC is a function that should be provided by government, or a quasi-governmental entity. Second is how the system is paid for, and how any user fees would be determined and administered. Third is whether a privatized system would be dominated by the group that pays the most and utilizes the system more than anyone else, the airlines, at the expense of general aviation.
NAVCAN Integreated Air Traffic Control SystemsPhoto: Sylvain Faust
Several countries have privatized Air Traffic Control, including Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. Proponents indicate that the process works and could be adopted in the US. Opponents cite the close relationship between ATC and the military, the need for coordination in national defense, and the potential that small operators, such as agricultural aircraft and rural airports, could be unfairly shut out of the process.
But the US airspace system isn't like the UK or Canada. It is much ...
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