House Republicans Call for Privatized ATC

Leaders say FAA has fallen short on NextGen.

As the FAA struggles to meet key NextGen goals, some House Republicans are pushing to privatize parts of the nation’s ATC system as a way to rein in costs and boost efficiency.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) said private enterprise can do a better job than the FAA of handling the technological demands of the switch to NextGen. He charged the agency has “wasted” billions of dollars over the last several years during the transition.

“The customers are companies and individuals who pay good money to a service provider that is not a business, but a vast government bureaucracy,” Shuster said at a House hearing on Tuesday. “As a government agency, the FAA is simply not set up to determine risks, pursue the most cost-efficient investments, manage people to produce results, reward excellence, or punish incompetence like a normal business.”

NextGen is estimated to cost about $40 billion when all is said and done, with a cornerstone of the program, ADS-B, mandated to take effect by 2020.

GOP leaders argue that non-governmental entities can better manage the transition, citing examples such as private non-profit and public-private partnerships and private ATC systems in Canada and Europe.

Shuster said the FAA has fallen short of its NextGen goals, with no signs that the agency can deliver improvements on time or on budget.

“After three decades of various modernization attempts and billions of taxpayer dollars spent, we’re nowhere near where we need to be,” he said.

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