The Trump administration has revived a call to spin off air traffic control (ATC) services from the US Department of Transportation (DOT) as part of a larger proposal to radically overhaul the federal government.

The 132-page plan released June 21 would streamline many government functions beyond ATC by creating, dissolving and merging various offices and agencies.

As part of the plan to streamline DOT, the proposal calls for FAA to spin off ATC services into a non-profit entity, reviving a controversial bid that failed to get congressional support in the FAA reauthorization bill passed earlier this year even though most US major airlines strongly support ATC modernization.

The White House plan is thin on details but argues that a reformed ATC system would be more efficient and better insulated from the uncertainties of the political system. It would also allow ATC fees to be based on actual usage of the airspace system. The administration cited the more than 60 countries that authorize organizations to control air traffic services as evidence for the merits of the policy, mentioning NAV Canada in particular as an example to emulate.

Most US airlines have long championed restructuring the ATC system.

“While there is no consensus on how to deliver these reforms in Congress, we applaud the Administration’s focus and recognition that the challenges of our air traffic control system haven’t gone away,” an Airlines for America spokesperson told ATW June 22. “The need for reform will only grow with more people flying than ever before. This proposal recognizes that the status quo isn’t getting the job done.”

Any plan to restructure ATC would have to be approved by Congress. In February, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman Rep. Bill Shuster (Republican-Pennsylvania) dropped his long-running push to separate the ATC system from the federal government in the face of opposition from the Senate and most Democrats.

Shuster’s decision to drop his bid to privatize ATC paved the way for the committee to approve its FAA reauthorization bill, which passed the full House in late April in a 393-13 vote. The Senate’s version of the reauthorization bill is awaiting a vote by the full chamber sometime this summer, before an October 1 deadline.

A coalition of six US associations representing general aviation released a statement condemning the new White House plan.

Ben Goldstein, Ben.Goldstein@aviationweek.com