North of the 49th Parallel, they’ve figured out how to manage an air traffic control system safely and efficiently. South of the border, the US can still pride itself on the safety of its airspace management system, but few would now call it efficient.

Many would say the US lags behind not just Canada, but several other countries that have put their ATC systems under the control of private organizations and which are benefitting from new technology and fewer delays.

The US air travel market may be a mature one, but it is still growing at an annual rate of just under 2.5% and that’s growth on what remains the world’s largest and most important market. The majority of growth, unlike in emerging economies, will take place on established city-pair routes. Maintaining a fluid, dependable commercial air transportation system between those city pairs is not merely a nice-to-do, it’s an economic imperative for America. There is no excuse to be a laggard where America was once a world leader.

That’s why, as others have vocalized recently, it is now critical that America moves beyond words and into action when it comes to reforming its ATC system. There is a large and growing consensus across stakeholders that it is no longer desirable or feasible to keep ATC under the management of FAA, which should be free to focus on its true expertise—safety oversight and certification. Similarly, there is general agreement that what the US ATC system most urgently needs is stable, long-term funding—free of Washington shenanigans—so it can make sensible and truly beneficial investments in much-needed modern technology.

And, undeniably, there’s a growing acknowledgment that others, including Canada, are doing ATC better because of the bold steps their countries took to privatize their air traffic management systems.

So what’s stopping America? In truth, there are no physical barriers. There are still a few naysayers—but they are far in the minority now—and some who have justifiable assurances they want in place. But those can be met.

What’s needed now—not tomorrow—is a little tried-and-true American can-do conviction plus a lot of action. The community has a political leader in this cause in Republican congressman Bill Shuster. But to lead, he needs a united contingent of industry stakeholders behind him, clearly demonstrating their support for ATC reform.

There is a better way when it comes to ATC management; America just needs to do it.