Government

Guest Column

U.S. Air Traffic Control Isn’t Working; Here's How to Fix it

b2d4aa89bf665b1a9f57_Citizensforontimeflightslogofinal3__4_.jpg
b2d4aa89bf665b1a9f57_Citizensforontimeflightslogofinal3__4_.jpg

For over 30 years the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has tried – and failed –to modernize America’s woefully dysfunctional air traffic control system (ATC). It is time to get ATC out from under the thumbs of federal bureaucrats and partisan politicians, and create a completely new structure that will get U.S. air traffic moving.

American ATC is stuck in the 1950s. Unbelievably enough, in the age of computers, U.S. air traffic controllers still hand each other little slips of paper to track aircraft locations. Pilots are forced to fly from one radar point to another (a 70-year old technology), instead of following the most direct routes from A to B. Our air space is so congested it takes 20% longer to fly to most places today than it did 20 years ago.

The solution to this problem, a commonsense fix that has been on the table for years, is to divorce ATC functions from FAA’s mission of ensuring air safety. This would rescue reform efforts from stifling FAA bureaucracy, federal procurement and personnel rules, and partisan politics. A private/public partnership – not a for-profit privatization – would enable us to move to a more workable system, similar to those that have been doing an exemplary job of controlling air traffic flows in more than 50 other countries for years. Including our good neighbor Canada.

Sign Up for E-News

Canada created an independent, nonprofit ATC user cooperative, NAV CANADA, in 1996. It has been extremely successful, not only in moving air passengers and cargo, but also in reducing costs for consumers. Over the last 20 years, fees have decreased 30%, with surplus revenues invested back into new technologies. Comparative Canadian airline flights of similar distances can be provided with ATC services for a little more than half of what we spend in the U.S.

A modern, “next gen” ATC system utilizing satellite technology, advanced software, and text and data tools would reduce U.S. travel times, flight delays, and cancellations. It would even decrease the excess carbon emissions created by airplanes flying longer than necessary routes. Funded by reasonable user fees that ensure everyone pays their fair share, a reinvented ATC system would save taxpayers and flyers billions of dollars.

A proposal to remake the FAA, the 21st Century AIRR Act, has been introduced in Congress. Everyone from consumer advocates to airlines to ATC union members are on board with this plan, which has drawn support from both Republicans and Democrats. They all understand that the status quo is unfixable and needs to be replaced with an entirely new system based on the tools at our disposal today, not those that were high-tech at the end of World War II. 

David Grizzle, a former chief operating officer of the FAA, said: “The FAA suffers from an unstable procurement system and an unpredictable federal funding structure that hampers the agency from improving technology incrementally so it’s always up to date, which also undermines the FAA's ability to train and maintain a qualified workforce. We should make the changes necessary to preserve America's leadership in global aviation. This can only happen with systemic ATC reform."

That needed reform has to come from outside the FAA. The FAA has been “working” on ATC modernization since 1981, so far spending some $56 billion on a task that was supposed to cost $12 billion and take 10 years to complete. They’ve had their chance. Congress and the Trump administration need to embrace a new strategy that will get the government out of air traffic control and usher in a new era in U.S. aviation.

Steve Forbes is Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Media.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer. Click here to submit a Guest Column.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Kenilworth

Cranford Jaycees Annual Golf Outing Raises Money For Community

July 18, 2018

CRANFORD, NJ - The Township of Cranford Junior Chamber of Commerce (“Jaycees”) held their 12th Annual Golf Outing on Friday, June 22, 2018, at the Galloping Hill Golf Course in Kenilworth. The outing raised $8,000.00 which will benefit two worthy community organizations, the Cranford Baseball and Softball League Inc. and the Union County Educational Services Commission ...

Mayors Push for Law Permitting Driver's License for Immigrants

July 20, 2018

PERTH AMBOY, NJ - Five mayors from northern and central New Jersey today called for passage of a state law permitting immigrants to get driver's licenses even if they are undocumented, saying it boosts public safety as well as the economy.

"This is important for every resident for a better life and a better life for the state of New Jersey," said Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda ...

To Our Current and Future Representatives

July 17, 2018

To Our Current and Future Representatives - Wherever They May Be:

We can never forget we are a nation of immigrants. 

We cannot fall prey to fear, ignorance and anger when we  have been historically driven by freedom and justice. 

We must have the courage and will to fight hate, bigotry and prejudice. 

We must not wake up to what we hoped was a bad dream and ...

Upcoming Events

Sat, July 21, 10:00 AM

NJ Convention and Exposition Center, Edison

82nd Annual Garden State Cat Show & Expo

Giving Back Other

Carousel_image_1eb83a6fad4b6893940e_17ee96028d17dc070892_a_new_design

Thu, August 9, 7:00 PM

Union Elks Lodge #1583 , Union

Donna Summer Tribute Concert

Arts & Entertainment

Shakespeare in the Park Returns to Union County Sunday, July 22

July 20, 2018

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is pleased to announce the return of Shakespeare in the Park this weekend. The performance will be presented on Sunday, July 22 at 12:30 p.m. at Cedar Brook Park in Plainfield.

The Shrew Mechanicals Troupe from The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey will present an hour long performance of “Shakespeare Gumbo,” a stirring collection of ...

Crowdfunding Options for Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses

Source: Many small start-up businesses and tech ventures in search of capital turn to popular online platforms for crowd fundraising of financial resources to get their concept off the ground and launched into market. Indiegogo, Kickstarter, and GoFundMe, to name a few, offer solutions in generating cash to fund new ideas. How do you get people to contribute to your cause?  Sam Burlum ...