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June 5, 2017

Trump administration unveils plan to privatise FAA’s air traffic control operations

US President Donald Trump has proposed the creation of a new non-governmental entity to manage the country’s air traffic control (ATC) operations, as part of the administration’s reform agenda focused on infrastructure.

US President Donald Trump has proposed the creation of a new non-governmental entity to manage the country’s air traffic control (ATC) operations, as part of the administration’s reform agenda focused on infrastructure.

The administration is planning to build on the proposed Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act which was introduced last year by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to create a not-for-profit, independent entity for ATC.

The decision to transfer ATC operations from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is aimed at improving infrastructure, accelerate the introduction of new technology, reduce aircraft delays, and expand the National Airspace System (NAS) availability for all users.

The principles for reforming ATC are expected to further improve aviation’s leading safety record, provide access to rural communities and attract capital investment. 

"The principles for reforming ATC are expected to further improve aviation’s leading safety record, provide access to rural communities and attract capital investment."

In terms of safety and security, these principles are intended to free the ATC of political interferences and budget uncertainty, while keeping intact FAA’s critical safety oversight.

In addition, the principles seek to ensure working relationships and interoperable capabilities with the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and law enforcement agencies.

In response to Trump’s announcement, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) stated that moving the US ATC from the FAA will negatively impact general aviation, rural and small communities and global leadership in air traffic control modernisation.

GAMA is opposing the transition based on research findings that indicated the move will create a financial risk to the user community and taxpayers.

It also raised objections to the manner in which the administration is proposing the transfer of assets free of cost.

The association has pointed that the announced move could delay progress on air traffic modernisation under the FAA’s NextGen programme.

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