GAO Study Finds Commercialized ATC Efficient, Safe

 - April 16, 2007, 7:00 AM

A study of five commercialized ATC providers by the Government Accountability Office concludes that the safety of air navigation services “has remained the same or improved” compared with when they were operated as noncommercial government agencies. The GAO also reported that the five providers in Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and the UK have lowered their costs and “improved efficiency” through investments in new technologies and equipment, eliminating some administrative positions or by consolidating facilities. However, the commercial air navigation service providers (ANSPs) have also increased fees for general aviation operators. The GAO’s study pointed to a number of lessons, not the least of which is that “commercialized ANSPs must be prepared to mitigate the effects of an industry downturn, whether through reserves, higher fees, cost-cutting or other measures. Involving stakeholders in modernizing (i.e., upgrading or replacing) ATC facilities and equipment can benefit both the provider and the stakeholders. Special measures may be needed to protect service to small or remote communities.”