On Monday, President Donald Trump revealed a new plan to privatize air traffic control systems in the United States. During a White House speech, Trump supported a plan to replace what he called an “antiquated” air traffic control system that was in desperate need of modernization. The move is part of a $1 trillion plan by the president to fix and update the country’s infrastructure.
Appearing before much applause at the White House, Trump was introduced as a builder before he backed the privatization of air traffic control. The operations will now be controlled by a non-profit corporation, which Trump claims will welcome in a new era in aviation for America.
Democrats were predictably unhappy about Trump’s move, suggesting that the move will result in fewer jobs in rural areas, while financiers will later profit from toll payments. The president put rumors to rest that this was an effort to benefit big business, however. Trump railed against the efforts previously made by the Federal Aviation Administration to improve the performance of air traffic control. Trump said that despite spending billions in taxpayer’s money, there have been numerous delays, and passengers have been burdened with an antiquated and broken system.
Breaking the Autocue
Going off script, Trump also attacked former president Barack Obama’s record, explaining how his administration had spent more than $7 billion in an attempt to fix and update the system, but had totally failed. He said that Obama’s administration didn’t know that they were doing, and had simply wasted money.
Long Overdue Improvements
Some analysts have struggled to understand why Trump would choose the aviation industry as his first stop during his infrastructure policies, given that there has not been a fatal airline crash in the United States for over eight years. However, it is also an easier option for the Trump administration to start with, given a previous bill has already outlined the groundwork for reform. The bill was created by Bill Shuster, the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and it outlines much of the new policies being announced by the Trump administration.
His White House speech drew a large audience, and he was joined by his daughter Ivanka Trump, as well as her husband, Jared Kushner. Trump explained that the reform was long overdue, given that the air traffic control operations were developed at a time when only 100,000 people flew every year. Today, there are almost 1 billion people traveling in the United States every year, meaning that something has to give. The current system, according to Trump, is incapable of keeping up. He claimed that the inefficiency of air traffic control is the reason why there are so many flight delays and other areas of inefficiency that he believes costs the national economy as much as $25 billion every year.
The president went on to say that while all passengers have access to GPS on their smart phones, the air traffic control system still relies on ground-based radio networks, as well as radar – along with communications equipment that isn’t even made any more. Trump even claimed that some operations are using paper to keep track of the thousands of planes that are flying at any given moment.
Under his new plan, the FAA would begin focusing on safety, whereas a non-profit organization would make sure that planes run on time. The new organization will not work on government money, meaning that the cost of flights could potentially go down, as passengers will have to pay less in tax.