Transportation Policy

Forget Big Old Jet Airliners; It's Big Old Jet Air Traffic Control System That's the Problem.

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Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has fired the latest air-traffic controllers who got caught snoozing on the job and, in the wake of a situation involving First Lady Michelle Obama plane, has pledged for like the 50th time to get some top men on it all. He tells the News Hour:

We are doing better. We're conducting—conducting investigations. And I'm prepared to announce tonight that we have fired two controllers after completing two investigations. We're also changing procedures have having to do with the vice president and first lady's plane when they're flying in and out of Washington airspace.

So, I would say that flying is safe, but we need to do more, and we are doing more, and we will continue to do more until we make sure that controllers take personal responsibility for the most important safety jobs they have. We're doing a top-to-bottom review of procedures, workplace procedures and other things.

More flop sweat here.

Conducting investigations! Changing procedures! You go, guy. Compare that sort of constipatory bureaucratese with how Southwest Airlines (arguably the safest airline flying domestically in the U.S.) responsed when one of its fleet went kerflooey earlier this month: Southwest promptly grounded its entire operation and did checks of everything. They were back up in the air quickly, with minimal (though not zero) disruption to travelers and its reputation. [Note: Go here in comments for better explanation of Southwest's thoroughly good and timely response.]

Of course, LaHood is much more interested in touting bull-dinky new laws about luggage fees and tarmac waiting times, where the government can squeeze the airlines on behalf of flyers. Oddly, LaHood seems to have no good ideas about reforming the air traffic control system (ATC) which the government fully controls and is one of the major reasons for tarmac waits.

Like too many of not just Obama's cabinet but every president's cabinet, LaHood seems blissfully uninterested in actually making things under his purview better. Rather, he spends most of his time going from cover-your-ass mode to laying on new fines and regs to anyone he can. The deregulation of air travel back under St. Jimmy of Plains and a bunch of other Dems (including Ted Kennedy!) is one of the great unalloyed success stories of the past 40 years. Thanks to the end of really idiotic top-down control dictating where airlines could fly, how much they could charge, and even what sort of food they served, air travel is cheaper and safer than ever. But the deregulators didn't finish the job. Airports are still overwhelmingly run by state agencies (in Europe, they are mostly in private hands and much better run from a customer point of view) and worse, the air traffic control system is still stuck in the 1950s.

The video above, "Your Flight Has Been Delayed—And it's Washington's Fault" was originally released on November 18, 2009 and it lays out a completely proven and workable way to modernize and improve the air traffic control system. Here's the original writeup:

As the holiday travel rush approaches, air travelers grounded by delays should take a moment to think about why they're stuck in airports or on the tarmac. There's a good chance Washington is to blame.

"The air traffic control system in the United States is technologically obsolete," says Robert W. Poole, Jr.director of transportation studies at Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes Reason.tv. "This model is basically the same model that we have used since the beginning of air travel."

The technology the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) uses to navigate $200 million jets is less advanced than the GPS technology drivers use to navigate $20,000 cars.

Poole says the system could safely handle more planes if the FAA used modern technology that would provide real-time information about where planes are. But the funding process, overseen by pork-hungry members of Congress, often thwarts technology upgrades. 

The only way to get the politics out of our air traffic system is to take the system away from the politicians. Why not let a private corporation manage the skies?

That may sound like a far-out, free-market idea, but Canada doesn't think so.

Our neighbors to the north often take pride in their lavish government programs, yet they allow a private corporation called Nav Canada to manage their air-traffic control system. Canada's approach, often called commercialization, has some surprising supporters in the U.S., including Al Gore, who pushed for commercialization when he was Bill Clinton's vice president.

"Your Flight Has Been Delayed" is written and produced by Ted Balaker. Director of Photography: Alex Manning; Field Producers: Paul Detrick and Hawk Jensen. The host is Nick Gillespie.

Approximately 7.28 minutes. Go here for embed code and downloadable versions. 

To subscribe to Reason.tv's YouTube channel, go here.

Reason Foundation's Air Traffic Control Research

Robert Poole's Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter

Take it away, Steve Miller Band, keeping on keeping on in that old 707.

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  1. Uh, why should there be special procedures for the First Family’s planes? If that’s what’s necessary for their safety that’s what’s necessary for the plebs’ too.

    1. When you start fucking POTUS, you’ll get travel perks too 😉

      1. When you start fucking POTUS…

        You mean we eventually get a turn?

        1. Let me be clear.

          BOHICA.

          1. But if we haven’t *started* fucking the pres, wouldn’t it just be BOHIC?

        2. Not even a reacharound.

      2. Does getting screwed by POTUS count?

  2. Assigning a buddy to each problem controller is a stroke of bureaucratic genius. With any luck, LaHood will have to deal with a sex/booze/gaming scandal instead of a sleep scandal.

    1. It’s not the buddies I’m worried about.

      “FAA probes fist fight between air traffic controllers”

      http://articles.cnn.com/1997-0…..a?_s=PM:US

  3. Gotta get to work. No morning links; no Golden Girls for you.

  4. Was the C17 cargo plane not equipped with instrument landing gear?

  5. LaHood also contradicts himself by firing controllers AND changing their work procedures.

    If the sleeping controllers were at fault, then their work rule procedures were fine and they don’t need to be changed. The controllers should be fired.

    It the procedures were flawed, then they should be changed. The controllers were sleeping as a result of the bad procedures and should not be fired.

    Which is is LaHood? You can’t have it both ways.

    1. Apparently, he Can have it both ways.

    2. There is no contradiction. You can fire incompetent workers and change procedures to make it easier to identify and get rid of the incompetents. Not that it is likely to make a difference in this case.

      1. And also to add in more safeguards to things from going to shit on account of human error.

  6. We’re conducting — conducting investigations.

    “Be vewwy vewwy quiet. I’m hunting wabbits.”

    1. Now *that’s* funny!

  7. I have some friends who are ATCs. Napping at night is one of the industry’s dirty little secrets. It’s a consequence of scheduling a week of mid shifts after a week of swings, or a week of days. If safety is the real concern, put two guys on, and let one of them nap.

    1. Or have them keep the same shift for more than a week at a time. Having worked nights, I can’t imagine having to constantly change my internal clock like you’re describing. Even going to meetings (which naturally were held at something like 1 in the afternoon) busted me up if I had to work later that day.

    2. Absolutely not – I’m not interested in paying two guys so one can nap on the job. I’ve been in the military for almost 20 years and have plenty of times where I’ve been up 24 hours either preceded or followed by a full work day – you just suck that shit up.

      Plus that sort of scheduling should only affect the first day of the new shift.

      But at the worst they just need to make the schedule shift change interval longer. Work a shift for two or three weeks (or 3-6 months) before rotating

      1. Why buy a car with brakes if you care so little about safety you won’t pay two guys to be in the tower?

        I don’t know what your job was in the military but did you have to do it all by yourself, with no one to check your work, and a mistake was, oh…around 300+ lives depending on the size of the aircraft?

        Ever travel overseas? Was your sleep pattern right after the “first day”?

        I’d ignore your post but you made the military look dumb with your post so I responded.

  8. ahh nickie – the SW aircraft had a HOLE in the fuselage…so of course SW grounded those aircraft…to ck for other HOLES…(take it away ella)…
    >”blue skys smiling at me, nothing but blue skys do i see!”

  9. I’m glad Al Gore was able to cut through all that red tape, and give us a smarter, more efficient government.

  10. Leading cause of workplace accidents for air traffic controllers – paper cuts.

    Moving all of those cardboard pieces is risky work.

  11. Why not just give the pilots a radio frequency they could key that would set off an alarm clock in the control tower? If one plane comes in an hour overnight, let ’em sleep; just have a way to wake them up…

    1. Or you could duplicate some of the ATC info on the airplane (through this nifty invention called a radio) and have the pilots talk to each other. It’s not clear to me why the whole show in the air needs to be run from the ground. When the USAF sends out a squadron of bombers they’re expected to figure out how not to run into each other all by themselves.

      1. Everybody wants to go to ATL at the same time. All the airplanes start out far apart (LAX, SEA, ORD, BOS, MIA) but want to be at ATL at the same time. Since only one person can talk on a frequency at a time a conversation isn’t a solution. Did I really have to explain why there is someone on the ground directing things?

        1. Yeah, but what this article doesn’t mention and what the airlines don’t want you to remember is that most of the people coming from LA, Seattle, Boston, etc. don’t *actually want to go to Atlanta.* Why are we taking for granted that we have to cram zillions of jets into one airport? Why not figure out how to fly people TO THEIR DESTINATIONS? Less congestion that way.

  12. Every president’s cabinet is a crowd of pathetic fuck-ups. Heckuva job, Hoodie!

    But when I object to having these morons put in charge of my health care, I’m “crazy” and “extremist”.

  13. If safety is the real concern, put two guys on, and let one of them nap.

    Or give each of them a gun, and just tell them, “First guy who falls asleep gets a bullet in the neck.”

  14. Why not just do what the railroads did, like 150 years ago… a dead man switch. If the controller doesn’t key his mike, move his cursor, or hit that new big red button, at least once every 5 minutes, an alarm goes off, and his supervisor gets a phone call.

    Cheap, simple to install and effective.

    CB

    1. “Cheap, simple to install and effective.”

      You do know that we are talking about the feds here?

    2. Cheap, simple to install and effective simple to outsmart.

  15. Part of me thinks this lack of capacity isn’t a bug, but a feature. I know that at Kennedy Airport, people are fighting plans to increase capacity because it would mean more low-flying planes over their heads. I’m shocked that there are planes flying your head when you live near an airport that’s been there SINCE WORLD WAR II, but these people have enough power to make it happen.

    1. That’s how the game has always been played. Move somewhere and start complaining about airport noise from the airport that’s been there longer than you’ve been alive. Then wonder why you have to drive 100 miles to get on a flight.

  16. ‘Southwest promptly grounded its entire operation and did checks of everything.’ Not to denigrate SWA (their handling of this situation was superb) but they did not ground the ‘entire operation.’ They grounded 79 airplanes that Boeing indicated had the same lap-splice structure as the Yuma
    n airplane. And they did not check ‘everything.’ They checked the suspect area. Twice — because the first inspections Boeing told them to do were the wrong ones. It was a measured, rational response — a pretty gutsy thing for SWA to do since the last time they tried that with the FAA, they were fined $7.5 million.

  17. ” The deregulation of air travel back under St. Jimmy of Plains and a bunch of other Dems (including Ted Kennedy!) is one of the great unalloyed success stories of the past 40 years. Thanks to the end of really idiotic top-down control dictating where airlines could fly, how much they could charge, and even what sort of food they served, air travel is cheaper and safer than ever”

    Not entirely. For some insane reason, the Carter deregulation permitted domestic carriers (United, American, Delta) to take on transoceanic routes for the first time, but forbade the international carriers (Pan Am, TWA) to take on domestic US traffic. Result- TWA and Pan Am both went belly up.

    1. And Reagan firing all of the controllers who were protesting for greater rest and safety procedures had nothing to do with this?

  18. The Steve Miller band’s hit was written by the great Paul Pena, an artist who never truly got his due and who died prematurely at the age of 55 in San Francisco in 2005. More people should know about him.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Pena

  19. I heard ATC people bitching about their working conditions every morning on the radio this week. I can’t even count the number of times I would get off the mid watch underway, stay up for a round of drills all morning, catch up on my actual job, then nap for a few hours before my next six hour session of watching people watch meters and gages. Not once did I see a person on watch fall asleep. If we’re going to have ATCs remain federal workers, maybe we should militarize them. (Standard disclaimer, etc.)

    1. Maybe they should go on strike if they don’t like their working conditions.

      I’d love to see how the current president would respond to a current-day PATCO strike.

      1. Reagan said the words but the decision to fire the controllers in 1981 was made a year earlier by Drew Lewis who was the secretary of DOT. Lewis asked Reagan to go on national TV and announce that anyone who walked would be fired hoping to intimidate the controllers into not striking. But the FAA already had that plan in motion. I know…I was there.

  20. Maybe LaHood wants to make flying more dangerous so people will more readily get on board with his high speed trains. If a few of the plebes die, then, well, it’s for the greater good.

  21. Xenocles – It’s exactly that kind of macho crap that gets people hurt or killed. I’ve done the exact same thing you’re describing and I actually DID see guys getting hurt because they were too tired to think straight.

    All of this “tough it out” nonsense, where getting a reasonable amount of sleep is somehow considered to be a show of personal weakness gets people hurt.

    In the military I used to hear “sleep is a crutch.” By that logic, so is breathing. You need to do both, in a reasonable amount, to survive. While you can push the envelope with sleep in an emergency, there’s no reason to set SOP up for people to fail.

    Last I checked, there’s no award (military or civilian) for the person who sleeps the least or for breathing the least amount of oxygen.

    It’s kind of like taking a leak – you can put it off for a while but you can’t put it off too long or you’ll involuntarily piss your pants. (Saw that both times I was in a basic training environment, in fact. First time a guy, second time a gal.)

    Doesn’t it just make more sense to set up SOP so people can take care of basic human needs like food, sleep and execretion?

    1. Totally agree. Sleep deprived people make mistakes. Being tough just means being degraded. Like the drunk who thinks he is fine, the sleep deprived person (Xenocles, in this case) is unable to judge his performance.

      The dirty secret is the FAA is one of the worse-run administrations in the government. Controllers want to compress their work week to get it over with. “Quick turns” are common. A quick turn is an 8 or 10 “break” between shifts. So if your shift was 6-4 you might come back to work at midnight and work until 8AM. The FAA needs to study whether anyone is really resting or sleeping (at home) during this time (they aren’t) and how that affects safety. The solution is require longer breaks between shifts (16 hours) or have two people in every facility 24/7. But that cost money and it took bad press to change it.

    2. You missed my point, or maybe I wasn’t clear. I don’t support that kind of schedule for anyone, but I did it and I’ve seen many others do it successfully. ATCs don’t do that, even when they do those quick turns. It’s on them to sleep in their off time – it sucks when all you can do in your downtime is sleep but it’s part of the job and more generally part of managing your time like an adult.
      That said, it’d also on the supervisors to not schedule like an idiot, even if the workers want to work forty hours in three days or something stupid. I’m sure there’s plenty of blame to go around here.

  22. …how Southwest Airlines (arguably the safest airline flying domestically in the U.S.) responsed when one of its fleet went kerflooey…

    “responsed”? I guess the editor in chief doesn’t have an editor to check his shit.

  23. In other airplane news, the NLRB is apparently issuing a complaint against Boeing for moving work from a unionized plant in WA to a non-unionized plant in SC just because the union in WA went on strike after Boeing said “if you keep going on strike, we’ll move the work.” The NLRB thinks that it’s unlawful to move work because of strikes or to prevent future strikes.

  24. The two controllers that were sleeping were tower controllers. If you know anything about air traffic control you’d know that they’re jobs are to guide aircraft only for approximately the last two miles on approach and do ground control (direct aircraft to taxi ways and guide them to the gates). The “real” controllers are located in Terminal Radar Control (TRACONs) who do the precision guidance. These are the controllers that space the aircraft and put them on the right track to actually do the landings. The level of control above that are the Air Regional Traffic Control Centers (ARTCCs) that guide trafic across the national airways. The most serious problem in the National Air Space (NAS) was the ARTCC controller that was watching a video on duty, accidentally keyed his mike, and took out a whole frequency. Should any controller be asleep, or distracted – absolutely not. They have the shift rotations they have (and claim make them so sleep deprived) are based on NATCA (the air traffic controller union) negotiated working condition rules. BTW – controlers can earn anything between $80 – 150K per year.

    1. Please…watch your mouth! “Real” controllers? While I have a lot of respect for my TRACON brothers because of the mix of speeds that they have to deal with, don’t think we in the tower are sitting around twiddling our thumbs. There may be more to this than you think you know. Some towers are busy, some are not. Some TRACONs are busy, some are not.

    2. And, don’t forget about the TRACON controller who was sleeping while the tower controller covered his airspace. Don’t forget about the Center controller who fell asleep, too. And, just to clarify:
      ARTCC is Air Route Traffic Control Center
      NAS is National Airspace System

      Thanks

  25. The failure of the FAA to modernize the air traffic control system was a case study in IT management back when I was in grad school.

    That was 1987-88.

    La plus ?a change…

  26. I am a pilot in SoCal and I can tell you the worst service I have experienced has come from “contract” towers. The system needs to be gradually improved, not cut to pieces and sold off. Since FSS were privatized to Lockheed Martin the service has not even come close to being as good as it was. Armchair pilots/controllers seem to think they have all the answers…

  27. The United States has the best air traffic control in the world. I fly for fun all over. This would be a bad thing for passengers around the world and here.

  28. The delays aren’t because of ATC, they’re not because of the airlines. Delays occur because there are a lot of airplanes that want to land on a very limited number of runways and things get backed up. It’s no different than the freeway system in any major metropolitan area. Traffic jam.

    The range of solutions is the same for both scenarios:

    1. Build more infrastructure
    2. Reduce demand by eliminating some of the vehicles.
    3. Live with the congestion.

    So far we keep choosing #3. I’d prefer #1 myself, but frankly I don’t see much hope of any more airports being built. They close at the rate of about 1 per week in the United States.

  29. The video states “Air traffic has increased by 3,000%” since the 1950’s. How many new airports and runways have been built since then?

    Answer: none. We lose airports at the net rate of 1 per week in the U.S. Here in the L.A. basin, we had 55 airports in 1950. Now there are about a dozen.

  30. Privatizing ATC will be a coup for the winning company. In fact, this article sounds like a PR for someone who wants the business. It is worth $billions of revenue. What I find ironic are the pundits that are often critical of the Europeans yet want to adopt their commercial ATC system …. which is extremely expensive for the user compared to the USA. As a pilot, I can say from experience that I have always received good professional service from ATC. The controllers are the good guys.

  31. Not a fan of privatizing ATC. Remember, even if we contract it out to a private entity, that entity will still be subject to the political pressures and nonsense that spews from D.C. And once a private company “owns” the system, what are you going to do if you don’t like it?

  32. The author of this essay is quite naive, as is Poole. Privatizing ATC would result in corruption on a grand scale; efficiency would suffer, not improve.

  33. That there can be improvements in ATC operations is of course true — and for that matter, is true for any large operation (indeed, maybe almost any operation, period), but the idea that things would get better by privatizing is arrant right-wing nonsense. As someone who uses ATC regularly, and who also serves on two citizen committees that frequently work with them, I can tell you they do a remarkably good job, care immensely about providing good service, and are healthily open to ideas on how to make things better. Enron; Haliburton, BP; I’ll take my chances with what we have, thank you.

  34. Let’s see, we’re running Health Care as a business now, Higher Education as a business now and they’ve skyrocketed in costs since this “business model” and procedures transformed them these last 20 years from altruistic services to profit centers. Total free market does not fit every service any more than the failed communist adgenda’s, it just becomes easier to jack up costs without oversight and gaming a different system. I’ll take the general fiscal incompetence of government agencies, which if the people want to correct can by electing competent leaders, over smart, contrived gaming of the capitalist system that some of our business leaders conspire to. Say goodbye to small plane general aviation as business becomes more in control of aviation services.

  35. If you privatize the Air Traffic Control system then charging and over-charging for services will follow as surly as night follows day.

  36. Robert Poole’s pitch was not about privatizing ATC, it was about privatizing AIRSPACE. He wanted (and wants) to create a monopoly not-for-profit corporation with control of all US airspace, then put it under the control of a board with majority representation by the airlines.
    His proposal should appall any libertarian (and also any liberal).
    Here’s why.
    1) While the sky-owning corporation would be not-for-profit, the airlines that would control its Board emphatically are NOT
    2) The airline representatives on the Board would not act in the interests of airlines generally, but rather in the interests of their own particular airlines
    3) Even if they acted in the interests of airlines generally (and to some extent they would), it would be in their interest to make airspace access a scarce resource, since the existing airlines, as incumbents, have no interest in facilitating competition
    4) In the same vein, business jet access would be made more difficult, because business jets compete with first class air tickets
    5) Sport aviation would be squeezed out. There is no upside for the airlines in allowing sport aviation. Providing ATC services to sport aviators is costly and, although most sport aviators would be quite happy to do without ATC services, the airlines have expensive equipment in the sky and need to make sure that they don’t run over any gliders or Cessnas or hot air balloons, so they need the sport aircraft to participate. But that participation still imposes a cost, so it’s better for the airlines to just ground everyone but them.

    In short, if I had to think of one idea significantly WORSE than a government monopoly running the skies, it’s this one.

    Robert Poole has long been respected for his libertarian views, and I don’t think he is intentionally shilling for the (incumbent) airlines with this proposal. And it would be nice to see his (old) idea die. I’d be happy to see a new one from him – competitive ATC services, for example, with the option not to buy any ATC services in most of the sky more than 10 miles from major airports.

    1. Well said, except for one thing: your three classifications (“airline”, “business jet”, and “sport”) don’t cover the half of it. Aviation is and can be used for so much more than scheduled air-carrier service flights, pleasure flights, and transporting the wealthy. Think about emergency services and charter transport. Consider the fact that a good deal of flights are training flights to teach pilots to do all these things. As for normal folk who just use the system for transport, we’re limiting ourselves by thinking that we plebes can only afford to buy an airline ticket to ride the big tubes in the sky. We can do better than the airlines with our current system…unless we let them take it away from us.

  37. What most people don’t realize it’s that all this is a political thing. It’s no secret among the flying community that controllers do fall asleep during some shifts. In fact the FAA have some fatigue studies that identify the factors that will make controllers/pilots and for that matter anybody to be less alert than necessary.

    What I haven’t seen is any news agency relate this story to the FAA re-authorization bill. It’s really unrealistic that in a period of a couple of weeks they’ve found more than five controllers fall asleep in their shifts; and we have to believe that it didn’t happen before? So two months ago no controller fell asleep? In a proposed re-authorization bill the FAA’s budget was cut close to 4 billion dollars less money than they had before, so I see this as a way to pressure the politicians to get them the money they need to provide for enough controllers and to move forward with their Next-Gen project that basically relies less on persons to handle our ATC infrastructure.

    On the other hand privatizing our ATC system will only make it more expensive and less safe. In the US most pilots don’t pay to use the airports, nav-aids and airport approach procedures, which allows them to practice and become more proficient. In Europe where ATC is privatized the cost of using nav-aids and instrument approach is so expensive that pilots just use them when necessary, theoretically making them less proficient. Same thing with weather reports, in the US you can call and get a full weather report (BTW this is privatized but fully funded by the government) for free, and even then some pilots don’t call to get the information, in Europe it can cost more than $30 to get the information, so some pilots just fly without the information and then get into trouble.

    I understand most of this comment is oriented towards General Aviation, but keep in mind that nowadays most airline pilots come from GA and not from the military as it used to be in the old days. So we really need people to train/practice to get really good and safe pilots for the future generations.

    1. Yes, America is where other countries send their pilots to learn to fly! The countries that have implemented the “tried and true” plan discussed in this article have made aviation too expensive to learn how to do.

  38. Again you are contributing to the nanny state by privitizing. I have had to fly in Canada and it is a mess for the average GA pilot — I vote NO!

  39. Only a government could conclude that, if controllers are falling asleep due to lack of air traffic, they should increase staffing rather than close the tower.

  40. If Al Gore is for it, I’m against it. period,
    But there are many other reason I’m against privatization of Airtraffic controll, we have been down that road before,please Upgrade the system,using the funds that is collected by airport taxes already.

  41. Deregulation isn’t why airline travel is safer. It’s innovation on the part of manufacturers and the continued hard work of the air traffic control system you’re maligning. You won’t find a study to support what you’re claiming.

    There’s a reason that controllers across the board are against privatization of ATC — safety. When you put it in the hands of business, money comes first. It’s already been tried; the Flight Service portion of air traffic control for the lower 48 and Hawaii was transferred to Raytheon. Service plummeted, complaints skyrocketed, and Flight Service is becoming tremendously unpopular. As a result, pilots who were once able to receive flight briefings from knowledgeable local Flight Service Specialists are now choosing to go it alone. Cheaper? Marginally. Just as safe? Not by a long shot.

    To think of it another way — would you privatize the police force? Remember Blackwater– er, Xe? Right. There’s a reason the United States has the safest air traffic control system in the world, and why we’re the ones leading other countries in how things are done.

  42. I don’t think you are qualified to talk about privatizing ATC, FAA or airports. Other countries have done it and that has lead to reduction of servies, lost of airports and created highly restrictive airspace. In most countries of the world there are few choices in carriers and general aviation does not exist. You either fly for the state owned airline or the military or you don’t fly at all.

    The United States is the only country left where an average person can learn to fly. Many people, through their own efforts, who learn to fly at local airports in their communities become the airline pilots. US airlines depend on having a ready pool of pilots from which to choose their captains and first officers. Is it any wonder why foreign airlines send their pilot applicants to the US to be trained. I myself have trained them.

    All airports in the US large and small serve the national transporation system. Many small airports serve and support the local economies. There are universities, industries and government agencies that rely on airports of all sizes. Privatization will only have a detrimental affect in restricting the flow of commerce and eliminating many airports due to the lack of funding. The closing of an airport has the same effect of closing a highway.

    And as for funding, any person who uses any airport contributes the operation of that airport. From passengers, pilots, vendors and business are collected fees, taxes and charges that used to pay for the operations and capital improvements.

    Since the days of George Washington our governments at all levels have been the business of promoting and funding transportation. From lighthouses to ports, canals, railroads and highways, all have benified and have supported the common good. Air transportation is no different.

  43. What a crock. Aircraft are delayed not because the ATC system isn’t doing it’s job. Flights are delayed because of weather, lack of more landing strips (runways), and airlines over scheduling to an airport in a given hour. A runway acceptance rate is hard number based on separation rules. If you have 1 runway and everything is perfect you can only put X number of aircraft on the ground based on weight. If everyone is a “large”, under 250,000 pounds, you can get 31 on the ground in an hour. Schedule 35 in that hour and someone gets delayed. The Reason group must have some personal ax to grind against controllers, because they keep beating the same dead subject. Air Traffic Controllers do NOT delay aircraft. Ever. It is their nature to run aircraft as close the minimum alowable spacing that the law allows. Again what a crock. Nav Canada, AIr services Australia, and the British system have historically run over budget, and have for the most part, not even come close to what the U.S. ATC system can accomplish in both numbers of aircraft handled, and in the safe operation of the ATC system. Period………….

  44. Please do your homework if you plan to make a definitive like declaring support for privatization if the air traffic control system. You missed a ton of important facts. First, the system in Canada is slow and unresponsive to the adoption of new safety technology like ADS-B; there is no incentive for a private corporation to make the necessary investments. Second, the private company charges exorbitant fees to all aircraft that operate in Canada. Imagine if we got rid of state and county transportation authorities, and all rss in

    1. all roads in the USA were toll roads. Would you like to pay a $30 fee to some corporation take your kids to school. Would you like that?
      Yesterday, I had the privilege of participating in an event where 15 pilots and 20 volunteers gave nearly 300 children free rides in their aircraft to interest them in aviation. The cost of fuel and maintenance was donated by the participants. As the event was at a non-towered airport, their was zero involvement by the ATC system. In Canada, that event would have been a cash cow for a private corporation, and the pilots would not have been able to afford it.

      We need pilots in this country for our national and local economies. Privatization would further depress an already hurting career sector, and unduly limit the freedom of flight we all enjoy .

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