President Trump announced his plan Monday to privatize America’s air traffic control system and separate it from the FAA — arguing the federal agency is too “antiquated” to innovate and casting the overhaul as an initial step toward improving the country’s infrastructure.
Trump wants to turn the air traffic control system into a modernized non-profit organization that operates on fees paid by airlines and others that use U.S. airspace, instead of taxes.
“We are prepared to enter a great new era in American aviation,” Trump said, in announcing the plan at the White House. “It’s time to join the future and make flights quicker, safer, more reliable.”
Trump argues the changes are necessary because the existing system has been unable to keep pace with the fast-changing aviation industry that now includes commercial space flights and unmanned aircraft systems, also known as drones.
The changes also would save fuel, improve safety and lower operations costs, according to the administration.
There are about 50,000 airline and other aircraft flights a day in the United States. Both sides of the privatization debate say the system is one of the most complex and safest in the world.
The announcement Monday is part of a renewed White House focus on infrastructure.
On the campaign trail, Trump touted plans to improve the country’s aging roads, bridges and airports. He was expected to announce a plan shortly after taking office, considering it had bipartisan support. However, fellow Republicans on Capitol Hill were wary about a plan that would add billions to the deficit or increase taxes.