A recent letter opposing modernization of the U.S. air-traffic control system misled your readers.
The United Kingdom’s air traffic system was only a few months old when 9/11 occurred. And the quotes from the U.K. Airports Commission referred to shortages of airport capacity in the London area, and had nothing to do with the U.K. air traffic control system.
The model that has inspired U.S. efforts to reform our system is the nonprofit corporation created 20 years ago in Canada. It has modernized the world’s second-largest air traffic control system while reducing its cost and increasing its safety. It has won global awards from the International Air Transport Association as the world’s best air traffic system.
Our government-run system lags behind reformed systems in dozens of other countries, and is subjected to both political micromanagement and the federal government’s chronic budget problems. The 60 or more foreign air traffic control corporations that have emerged in recent years are self-supporting from fees paid by their users — and completely independent of government budgets. They are regulated for safety, at arm’s length, by government safety regulators.
A bill to reform our system along these lines will be introduced in Congress next month, with strong airline support. It’s a proven approach that will lead to a better-managed, higher-technology system to keep air travel moving forward, to the benefit of everyone who flies.
Robert Poole, director, transportation policy, Reason Foundation, Plantation