Commercial ATC Would Be Safer, Says Conservative Group
The Reason Foundation believes there is a positive relationship between a private ATC system and aviation safety. The U.S. conservative thinktank’s director of transportation, Bob Poole, cited a 1996 MBS Ottawa study that looked at 10 self-supporting air navigation service providers (ANSP) around the world and concluded that performance–measured by seven different indicators, including safety–under a corporate structure was as good as or better than when the respective governments ran ATC. Poole told AIN he would rather replace the word “privatization” with a more accurate term, like commercialization or corporatization. “People hear privatization and they think about a for-profit company. That idea has never been proposed,” he said, adding that reforming the federal funding mechanism for ATC doesn’t mean privatization either. Over the past 25 years, Poole said, some 55 ATC providers have gone commercial, but of course not the U.S. service. The key element in all of these 55 ATC reforms, maintained Poole, was to “separate the safety function from the ATC regulatory side. It is now ICAO policy to do just that when ATC systems commercialize.” Poole claimed the key to a successful U.S. commercial ATC system means pulling ATC and its funding mechanisms away from the federal budget system, since the Airport & Airway Trust Fund cannot protect the system anyway. “If you take a serious honest look at the federal budget trajectory, we can’t continue the way we’re going without some serious negative consequences,” he concluded.