Many people in the business aviation industry might already be aware of the 21st Century Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Re-authorization Act, a bill that is trying to get passed through Congress to privatize control of the United States national airspace system. Bill Shuster, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman believes that the United States (U.S.) National Airspace system, one of the country’s most valuable assets, is broken due to outdated technology. Republican lawmakers believe that privatizing this industry will modernize the air-traffic system, thus improving efficiency. While admittedly, the tech is outdated and there are efforts to update the system, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been doing an exceptional job managing one of the most busiest and complex systems in the world, and the evidence of zero to no fatalities have reflected this.
Why Privatize Air Traffic Control in the First Place?
Handing over this immense responsibility over to a nonprofit corporation, empowering them to control the country’s air traffic in a way that will benefit them the most is an alarming thought. The reasoning behind this bill is to free up the government resources indicating that corporations have more resources than the U.S. government to update the industry’s technology.
Why Air Traffic Control Shouldn’t Be Privatized?
The invention of aviation was birthed right here in the United States and has continued to grow and evolve because of the fair access provided to the country’s airspace. Privatizing this industry will reduce the potential for further growth and opportunities for jobs and most importantly, taking away fair access to the nation’s airspace. Privatizing the industry is privatizing airspace, something that could complicate transportation systems and divide our country.
Privatizing Air Traffic Control: What Would That Look Like?
Privatizing air traffic control means shifting the responsibility from the government to nonprofit corporations run by other aviation companies—which could be any business that follows the necessary guidelines to qualify as such. This means that the government would be handing over approximately 300 airport towers and flight tracking centers that will affect approximately 55,000 employees, controllers, and technicians.
The idea of improving efficiency and modernizing the system is not lost to the business aviation industry. In fact, efforts are being made to push such plans along. However, the shortage of technicians and pilots due to the narrow doorway of job opportunities available might be contributing to why the process to improve the aviation’s air traffic system is moving so slowly. There’s also the recent furloughs and government shutdowns that have played a part in stagnating any advancements in the industry. Also, many people working or associated with the business aircraft industry believe that aircraft operators, business aviation pilots, and small aircraft manufacturers have legitimate reasons to believe that corporations will pull back on their services and charge higher fees.
What’s at stake?
Removing air traffic control from the government into a corporation’s hands to quickly modernize air traffic technology from radar radio communications to GPS surveillance and digital voice and text communications doesn’t prove that the management of air traffic control would be any better than it already is. Furthermore, improving technological communication systems also mean preparing for every means of malware that could hack into the system. Cyber thieves are consistently trolling databases to find a way into compromising a system. Taking the methodical approach to modernizing air traffic control systems might not be a bad idea. This system cannot afford to be compromised.
The 21st Century Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization Act really just wants to take air traffic control from the government to free up more money in their budget process, make corporations happy. However, this happy exchange of responsibility might not benefit all of the workers in the aviation industry, much less the passengers. If fees increase, so will the flight tickets. If air traffic is privatized, the jurisdiction of it will be a lot more complicated to navigate. This is something that could cause longer flights and layovers too.
What’s the Alternative?
So, what’s the answer?
Well, Congress could give the FAA protection from government shutdowns and budget cuts. In fact, the FAA could benefit from more funding and better resources that will propel the goal to modernized aviation technology. The corporations that want to take over could use their resources to “modernize” the industry by providing educational grants to ensure the longevity of providing well-skilled aviation technicians and pilots.
There are some people in the aviation industry who support the idea of air traffic privatization because they want what the bill is promising to come to fruition right away. We all do, but many of us are aware of the negative long-term ramifications of such instant gratification.
Want to learn more about what’s going on in the business aviation industry? Read more Offland Media articles! If you have any questions, contact an Offland representative today at 1-800-604-5193 or contact us online.