Trump Plan to Privatize Air Traffic Control System ‘does not pass the smell test’ – Larsen

Jun 5, 2017 Issues: Transportation

Washington, D.C.—Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02), the top-Ranking Democrat on the House Subcommittee on Aviation, today released the following statement after President Trump announced plans to privatize the U.S. air traffic control system.

“The President’s rationale for privatizing the world’s safest and most complex air traffic control system simply does not pass the smell test,” said Larsen, who has led Democratic opposition to privatization efforts, “and it will not achieve the meaningful modernization needed to ensure our aviation system remains the safest and most efficient in the world. Today, there are flights landing more efficiently at Sea-Tac and at airports around the country thanks to the Federal Aviation Administration’s NextGen program. This progress – which has already delivered $2.7 billion in benefits to airlines and operators of general aviation aircraft – is forecasted to grow to $13 billion by 2020 and $160 billion by 2030. Privatization jeopardizes these efforts, as well as any hope for a bipartisan, comprehensive Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill that moves the needle on the many aviation issues upon which Democrats and Republicans agree.”

Larsen has consistently raised concerns about the challenges and unanswered questions involved in proposed privatization plans. In May, Larsen pointed out glaring inconsistencies in a Republican proposal to privatize the nation’s air traffic control system. And a November 2016 Government Accountability Office report found that aviation experts are deeply divided and unable to answer serious questions about the impacts to national security and the financial stability of the ATC system if it were privatized.

In the report, the GAO’s panel of aviation experts could not guarantee that a private corporation would speed up technological advancements under NextGen implementation, or that a private ATC system could collaborate successfully with the military to ensure the security of the national airspace. The report also confirmed that a privatized air traffic control system would be heavily and negatively impacted by an economic downturn and/or a decrease in air travel.