U.S. Airline Group Will Conduct Study of ATC Reform

 - October 9, 2014, 4:01 PM
Shown is the ATC tower at Washington Reagan National Airport. (Photo: Bill Carey)

The trade organization representing major U.S. airlines is conducting its own study of the pros and cons of privatizing the nation’s ATC system. Airlines for America (A4A) plans to release its findings as Congress drafts the next long-term reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration.

“For FAA reauthorization to be transformative, everything has to be on the table and that of course includes ATC reform and really getting NextGen up and running,” A4A president and CEO Nicholas Calio said during a speech to the International Aviation Club of Washington, D.C., on October 9. “To that end, A4A is in the process, through an independent third party, of benchmarking and developing a fact-based assessment of the financial, operational and governance factors of the U.S. air traffic control system against models including Nav Canada, the UK and other European countries.”

The consultant’s report will also evaluate the risks and opportunities for “specific elements of reform” and present options based on the NextGen ATC modernization effort, Calio said.

The prospect of restructuring the system managed by the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization (ATO) is gaining currency elsewhere as planners draft the next FAA reauthorization to replace its current operating authority, which expires in September 2015. “There is a lot of talk about privatizing or corporatizing the ATO,” Rich Swayze, a former top aviation aide to the Senate Commerce Committee told the NextGen Advisory Committee on October 8. Swayze now serves as FAA assistant administrator for policy and is involved in planning for the next reauthorization.