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Transportation Watchdog Lauds Privatized Air Traffic Control

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Ethan Barton Managing Editor
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Privatized air traffic control in other countries is safe and self-sufficient, a government watchdog reported Wednesday.

Commercialized air traffic control organizations in Canada, France, Germany and the United Kingdom “operate with varying degrees of government ownership, but each runs like a business, generating their own revenue streams and making their own decisions regarding operating the air traffic system and modernizing equipment,” according to a Department of Transportation inspector general report.

Conversely, America’s Federal Aviation Administration – a public entity – is responsible for overseeing “all aspects of civil aviation in the United States, including operating the air traffic control system and regulating safety,” the report said.

The FAA’s annual budget is $16 billion.

The four foreign governments the IG reviewed retained regulation and safety oversight responsibilities. Airlines were equally safe after the air traffic control organizations were privatized.

Also, “these countries commercialized their air traffic control functions to address issues such as rising national deficits, operational and cost inefficiencies, the governments’ inability to modernize their air transportation systems and stagnate wage growth for government employees,” the IG said.

Meanwhile, NextGen – the FAA’s overhaul of America’s air traffic control system – has been plagued with cost overruns, delays and technological failures that were nearly “catastrophic”, the Daily Caller News Foundation reported earlier this year.

The foreign commercial entities reviewed, however, “do not embark on large, comprehensive modernization efforts, such as NextGen … or conduct extensive aviation research and development,” the report said. “Rather, they deploy new technologies incrementally and try to install technology that meets operational needs.”

FAA’s projects “span much longer time-frames with unclear end states.”

Yet, the IG acknowledged that FAA faces unique challenges.

“The United States has the largest and most complex air transportation system in the world. The FAA’s Air Traffic Control Organization controls more than 2.5 times the airspace of the United Kingdom – the largest airspace of the four” foreign commercial entities the IG examined.

Compared to the UK, the FAA also manages more than 10 times the number of aircraft, 12 times the number of air traffic controllers and nearly 18 times the air traffic control facilities.

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Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.