As the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee prepares to release its new comprehensive FAA reauthorization bill, the committee faces a public relations battle on one portion of that legislation: air traffic control reform. A recent CNBC-sponsored poll found that a little more than half of people surveyed think it is a "bad idea" to “shift control of the U.S. air traffic control system from the…FAA, to a private, non-profit entity that would be governed by representatives of the major U.S. airlines and others.”
Conducted by Hart Research Associates, the CNBC “All America Survey” questioned 800 people on a range of economic and government policies. Asked whether they favor public-private partnerships to expand or pay for highway, airport and other infrastructure projects, 53 percent of the respondents said they either strongly or somewhat favor.
But in the area of ATC reform, respondents were asked about the shift to a system in which “the FAA would have some oversight…but would no longer manage the air traffic control system.” Respondents were given the following choices: “This is a good idea because the system is out of date and cannot keep pace with the significant increases in air traffic. A non-governmental entity led by aviation experts could update the system with the most reliable technology faster and less expensively, making air travel more efficient and safer” or “This is a bad idea because it would give the airlines too much control over a public asset and will give them authority to impose taxes and fees on U.S. passengers. These corporations could cut corners that serve their own interests and make it less safe and more expensive for all to fly.”
Only 33 percent sided with “ good idea,” while 53 percent selected “bad idea.” Another 11 percent said they were not sure, while the remaining 3 percent said neither.
NBAA pointed to the survey as “a critical reminder” of the opposition to the proposal. “Clearly, voters have real and significant concerns about this concept, which would take aviation decision-making out of the hands of the elected officials who represent the public’s interest, and hand sweeping authority over to a group of private interests,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen.