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Privatize the US ATC System?

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It's been proposed and the airlines seem to like the idea. I don't have an opinion  on this idea one way or the other, but I know that AVSim  has real life commercial  pilots and controllers that post here and I just wondered what they think about this.

Please try to keep the political stuff to a minimum.

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 I think this would be good for aviation. The current system is outdated and government is too ponderous and covered with red tape to ever get things done in an expeditious manner. By privatizing the system, I believe it will open up competition which always results in better product and service. Net result is good for pilots and aviation in general.

 

Vic

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From ABCNews:

The general aviation community is gravely concerned about their place in the nation's airspace under an air traffic control system where big airlines hold the most power. The proposed non-profit corporation would be controlled by 13 board members; the number of pre-determined seats belonging to major airlines is double that of the general aviation community, which represents 26 times more aircraft than commercial carriers, according to the FAA.

Opponents of the plan, including private pilots and small airports, are also concerned that high user fees will create an industry dominated by large airlines that can afford such costs, leaving small businesses and towns behind.

The major domestic carriers all support the privatization plan, with the notable exception of Delta Air Lines. Delta released a study in 2016 indicating such a move could increase traveler costs by 20 to 29 percent.

“Proponents have claimed that privatization would lead to cost savings for consumers,” the study stated. “But no evidence has yet been produced to show that privatization would reduce costs. In fact, nations that have privatized ATC have seen operational costs increase at a much higher rate than has been seen in the U.S. under the FAA.”

I'm not keen on the idea of the major airlines holding far more seats in the non-profit corporation than the GA community.  Seems to me just another attempt of the rich mega-corps to grab more power... and wealth.

Greg

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2 hours ago, vgbaron said:

 

Had to throw that in here didn't ya?

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3 hours ago, vgbaron said:

 I think this would be good for aviation. The current system is outdated and government is too ponderous and covered with red tape to ever get things done in an expeditious manner. By privatizing the system, I believe it will open up competition which always results in better product and service. Net result is good for pilots and aviation in general.

 

Vic

Maybe, but the specific proposal is to hand over ATC to a single organization, not several. The real question should be "what is the justification here, who benefits?" It won't be General Aviation, it won't be Air Traffic Controllers, it certainly won't be pilots. Our current system is the safest, most efficient it's ever been with fewer and fewer people. The solution to this isn't a tumultuous transition to a new system with new hiccups. Compare the fallback plans of ATC loss, a relatively smooth process, to how airlines have handled IT outages.

 

Privatizing our ATC would turn it into something like our national power grid: a hodgepodge system of private companies with no consistent coordinated plan, ruled either by one company and "managers" or, if other proposals surface, the even worse series of multiple, independent contractors.

 

Right now the FAA does an amazing job managing air traffic, and technologies like ERAM and ADS-B are letting is cram more and more traffic into tighter spaces that increase capacity and reduce noise and climate impact. ATC is a perfect example of infrastructure, something that is the backbone of our nation's engine and not something that should ever be concerned with making enough money in a quarter. 

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The non profit he proposed has to sell bonds to raise funding.

What happens if you fail to meet needs?

Upgrade the system, yes.
Take this route? No way.

 

Is anyone here willing to pay to upgrade? Most people dislike taxes and do not consider what those taxes actually pay for. We see the local spending, but when you get from LA to NY in 5 hours for less money than it cost in 1970 you can hardly complain. We take too much for granted.

Yes, convert to a bilateral approach - both radar which is very hard to disrupt and GPS.
There are things business cannot do for us as "the public" that only government can.

I AM the government.

 

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44 minutes ago, vgbaron said:

 I believe it will open up competition which always results in better product and service.

except it's not creating competition really.., it's handing the airlines control of the ATC management instead of the government. there won't be a competing, better, safer, cheaper ATC grid to fly with. it will just be the same one that your taxes paid for already, except now the people running the board will be able to tweak it for profit margins instead of safety margins.

that may not be bad, i strongly believe that they will still consider safety!  killing your customers is bad business... but it's also been shown that cutting corners wherever possible to create shareholder value is par for the course when there's so much money on the line.

they cite the slow nexgen rollout as an example of where to reduce red tape. but it's not clear how their new setup will expedite that process or address whatever is making it slow in the first place. around here it is things like a barrage of lawsuits from residents whenever flight paths change. i really don't know what else they are proposing or how it changes things, like more GPS-based routings or something? i thought VOR and NDBs were getting turned off in many places already as part of a gradual decommissioning. what's so wrong about the process now that would be better under a corporate structure?

unfortunately none of the articles i saw about this today really had much in the way of actual aviation details. seems like a pretty curious issue to study.

the whole "your flights will finally be on time again" claim sounds great and all, but how many of those delays are from problems inherent in the ATC system? i'd guess that substantially they are due to mechanical failure or weather. and i don't know how often delays really happen but i'm unconvinced that it is some epidemic right now. the system is already one of the safest in the world so how will these changes affect that positively?

maybe somebody who flies in canada can chime in because they did switch to a nonprofit corp like this! is it really better? any different? maybe it's great for airlines in a way that will benefit consumers, i dunno... but without a compelling and detailed argument about how this will improve things i would be highly suspicious. you can be sure that when 'privatization' is mentioned that somebody, somewhere, is really looking forward to making a buck off if it.

cheers,-andy crosby

 

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I will say just look at the ATC system in Europe. I am a CFI and when I went to Europe and you have to pay for every landing, touch & go's. There is a fee for using ATC, lots of students come over to the U.S. to learn to fly as its less expensive. This will be very bad for general aviation and I hope AOPA jumps right into this one. I am teaching in Florida and we have a ATC tower when is run by contract and the controllers there do not want to see ATC privatized. 

 

JeffG  

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Frankly, I don't believe that politics have a place on the flight sim boards. It's a slippery slope, and once one starts it opens up to people posting a wide range of personal views on may different topics.

Let's keep this about aviation/flight simulation.

 

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2 hours ago, Pilot53 said:

Had to throw that in here didn't ya? 

you bit on it, didn't ya? Now let's move back to the subject at hand. I'll edit it out if it makes you feel better.

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I think ATC competition is a great idea!

LAX Approach: "... now up is Direct SEAVU IAF, do I hear $200? DAL 23 $300, ACA 17 $400, do I hear $500? SOLD AF1 for $1000.  Next up for bid, #1 for departure at 25 Right..."

Mike

 

 

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17 minutes ago, Mike777 said:

LAX Approach: "... now up is Direct SEAVU IAF, do I hear $200? DAL 23 $300, ACA 17 $400, do I hear $500? SOLD AF1 for $1000.  Next up for bid, #1 for departure at 25 Right..."

Privatizing ATC... what could possibly go wrong? :laugh:

Greg

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It is how we do it in New Zealand since 1987 (https://www.airways.co.nz/)  and it works very well. I wouldn't mention Trump at all as privatization has been talked about and already implemented since decades before his Presidency, and actually works better in other parts of the world.

The advantages is it allows for better innovation, New Zealand is the first airspace the use Oceanic Control System which is now used by the United States. If it wasn't for us you wouldn't have what you have. 

Canada also has NAVCAN which also works very well

What this comes down to is if the USA is capable of handling a transition to privatization with all issues considered in the current system, this process would be complex.

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21 minutes ago, ytzpilot said:

What this comes down to is if the USA is capable of handling a transition to privatization with all issues considered in the current system, this process would be complex.

Exactly, and no.

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The proposal has been kicking around for at least a couple of years.  Today's announcement wasn't about a new policy, more a statement of principles.  Theater, not anything decisive.

From what I've been reading, AOPA and EAA are strongly opposed, and the airlines are in favor, for reasons already laid out here.

 

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