Letters: Push to Privatize Air Traffic Control Met with a Few Headwinds
June 20, 2017
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  • Congress has rightly rejected bids to privatize air traffic control 

    JEFF JACOBY’S column “Let’s do air-traffic control the Canadian way” (Opinion, June 14) contains far more points to contend with than can be rebutted in a letter to the editor. The quotes Jacoby cites are, by his own admission, 17 years old. The truth is, the Federal Aviation Administration’s infrastructure for automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast technology — the new GPS-based air traffic control system — is complete. As a private pilot with an ADS-B-equipped aircraft, I use it regularly. The reason the system can’t go to fully GPS-based operation is that much of the aircraft fleet is not yet equipped.

    The proposal for privatizing the air traffic control system has already been rejected by Congress a couple times over the last few years. Its aim is to take an air traffic control system that serves all air traffic in the United States, with by far the highest traffic levels in the world, and turn it over to the airlines to operate to their benefit. This would presumably be at the expense of everyone else, discouraging participation and negatively affecting safety. 

    Privatizing the air traffic control system would create such turmoil that it would delay its modernization many years.

    Small wonder that opposition to the proposal is (contrary to what Jacoby writes) bipartisan.

    Andy Goldstein


    FAA has its issues, but agency is well on its way in upgrading 

    JEFF JACOBY is correct to praise the Canadian air traffic control system. It works very well for the Canadians and has saved them costs. As an officer in a flying club based at Beverly Airport, I receive the invoices from NavCanada every time one of our members flies to Canada. We do our part to save money for Canada.

    However, while Jacoby’s argument that the Federal Aviation Administration is antiquated may have been valid years ago, the FAA is now well into an upgrade program called NextGen that uses state-of-the-art technologies and procedures. It uses a satellite-based system that provides our upgraded four-seater plane with displays of weather and air traffic in the cockpit.

    In addition to enhancing safety, NextGen will save billions of dollars annually by increasing airport operations, providing direct routing, and creating other efficiencies.

    Jacoby has some valid criticisms of the FAA’s plights, and we can learn some things from our Canadian neighbors, though they and other countries handle a small fraction of the air traffic of the United States. Yet let’s not throw out the FAA’s new baby because of a little dirty bathwater.

    Joe Gibbons

    Operations officer

    North Shore Aero Club