President Donald Trump is likely to announce a proposal to privatize the nation’s air traffic control (ATC) system Monday, kicking off what the White House is calling “Infrastructure Week.”
Trump is expected to push for the separation of ATC operations from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), a move favored by U.S. airlines, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. U.S. airlines favor the reforms, asserting that the FAA’s current program is insufficient. The changes will move the ATC system from radar and voice-based communications to a system based on satellite navigation and digital communications.
The administration looks at the ATC system as a technology business within the FAA. Separation of the the system is meant to speed up modernization efforts to update the ATC system. Many expect the reforms to dramatically advance new technologies that will cut down on travel disruptions and enhance safety by allowing for greater precision when controllers are directing flights.
While efforts to privatize the ATC system have been around for decades, the idea became closer to reality when the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) publicly came out in support of a proposal to separate the ATC system from the FAA in exchange for guarantees that its members would keep their benefits, salaries and union representation last year.