The Trump administration has proposed its Air Traffic Control Reform Initiative June 5, formally setting forth a plan to remove US air traffic control (ATC) from FAA oversight, replacing it with a non-profit, independent entity.

Describing the present-day US ATC system as “ancient, broken, antiquated and horrible, [a] system that doesn’t work,” Trump announced that bidding for “one great company that can piece it all together” was underway.

“At its core, our new plan will dramatically improve America’s [ATC] system by turning it over to a self-financing, non-profit organization. This new entity will not need taxpayer money. Under this new plan the FAA will focus firmly on what it does best—safety,” Trump said in a White House ceremony, flanked by US Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Elaine Chao, and later joined by US House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pennsylvania), a long-time advocate for the removal of ATC from FAA.

“The separate non-profit entity will be charged with ensuring route efficiency, timely service, and a long-awaited reduction in delays,” Trump said. “Air traffic controllers will have more financial security, professional opportunity and far superior equipment.”

Trump indicated the administration had studied independent ATC systems in other countries, which he said he would not name, but there was “one in particular.”

“Dozens of countries have already made similar changes, with terrific results,” Trump said. “Canada, as an example, modernized their ATC to a non-government organization about 20 years ago, and they have cut costs significantly adopted cutting-edge technology, and handled 50% more traffic.”

“The administration consulted with a wide range of stakeholders in our country’s aviation system, passenger advocates, pilots, air traffic controllers, aviation experts, airport managers and others,” Chao said at the announcement. “We will continue to work with them … separating air traffic control from the red tape and budget uncertainties of the current system [and] will end the cycle of delay and disruption that has not served them well.”

“This new entity will be a non-profit co-op organization where all surpluses will be flowed back, to be reinvested, in the system,” Chao said. “Over 60 countries are operating their airspace safely with similar structures, where the air traffic control system is an independent entity, free from the restraints of government procurement regulations.”

“Innovative thinking is what allowed America to pioneer the field of aviation ever since Kitty Hawk. Complacency is innovation’s greatest threat. It empowers the status quo and allows our competitors to gain advantage,” Shuster said during the ceremony. “We cannot allow that to continue to happen with aviation in America. We have the safest airspace in the world, but it is inefficiently operated and wastes billions and billions in taxpayer dollars, as the President mentioned—$7 billion in the last administration, but over the last 40 years, $50 billion have been spent on this effort and we’ve gotten very little for it.”

Mark Nensel