Chao: ATC Proposal Will Come Back

While conceding that the concept of removing the nation’s air traffic control system from the Federal Aviation Administration lacks political will on Capitol Hill, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao believes that the fight for such reform is far from over. Speaking during a Washington Post forum recently, Chao called the proposal for an independent ATC timely and said, “this idea is going to come back.”

Chao reiterated arguments that the concept should be considered because the ATC system faces delays and inefficiencies. “The Administration’s proposal to take the air traffic control system from the FAA and liberate it from the government shackles of the procurement process…would enable the air traffic control to address some of the delays and the congestions which so many passengers face every single day.” The Transportation Secretary also expressed concern about a “bit of conflict” that is present by having the safety regulator also manage ATC operations.

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The NBAA head says this latest attempt to float the privatization scheme may be the most serious yet.

Having said that, she acknowledged that “clearly we have been unable to get enough votes in the House and the Senate,” and added, “We need to work on that.”

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pennsylvania), a primary architect of the proposal, earlier this year agreed to shelve the plan after it had stalled comprehensive FAA reauthorization legislation for months. But Chao praised Shuster for his “single-handed determination” in giving the proposal as much momentum as it has had.