President Donald Trump spoke before Congress Monday about plans to privatize the air traffic control system. His bill to privatize air traffic control died previous year.
"Our air traffic control is stuck, painfully, in the past", Trump said, decrying the "ancient, broken, antiquated, disgusting system that doesn't work".
The plan has drawn appraises from former transportation secretaries, who lauded the move as the "right solution for the 21st century".
Data Comm is operational at 55 air traffic control towers around the country, supplementing voice communication between controllers and pilots with digital text-based messages created to make for safer, more efficient operations, as it helps aircraft take off and reach their destinations on time.
Some congressional critics of privatization lay the blame for air traffic snags on the airlines rather than the FAA.
Some Republican and Democratic members of Congress have criticized the plan in the past, fearing that US airlines would prioritize their own interests over those of air traffic facilities and their 30,000 employees nation-wide, the Associated Press reported.
"So part of what we are trying to do is put on increased accountability on to an entity that is not subject to varying appropriations and potential government shutdowns, that's not subject to government procurement rules and allows for greater partnership between air traffic controllers and the developers of technology so this technology is addressing directly what the controllers need".
Trump's proposal is just that - a proposal.
He also said major airlines already have the next generation technology that Trump says the FAA has yet to bring into service. The system was first designed at a time when the number of air passengers was 100,000 a year, while that number is now approaching 1 billion. The remaining 5 would be filled by 4 top executives from big airlines and a union executive.
Privatization has long had strong support among the nation's airlines, and Republicans have advocated for it for years.
"The current system can not keep up, hasn't been able to keep up for many years". He referenced the "outdated" system while touting new reforms that would make it safer and more reliable.
A summary of the proposal released by the White House includes a three-year transition period to shift oversight of the nonprofit system to new ownership, which would be overseen by a board made up of airline, union and airport officials.
Still, Trump's call for privatizing air traffic control comes during an unprecedented era of safe aviation in the U.S. There hasn't been a fatal accident in the last eight years, according to the Associated Press. "And then you get to the Senate, and they have pretty much said, 'We are not interested in this'". It would transfer control of about 35,000 workers and leave the FAA to focus on safety.
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