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Trump Has Plan for Big Changes to Air Traffic Control

He wants privatization, separation from FAA
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 5, 2017 7:18 AM CDT
Trump to Set Out Plan to Privatize Air Traffic Control
President Trump speaks during the Ford's Theatre Annual Gala at the Ford's Theatre in Washington, Sunday, June 4, 2017.   (Carolyn Kaster)

(Newser) – President Trump plans to lay out his vision for overhauling the nation's air traffic control system on Monday, outlining his goals to privatize the system in a White House speech. Trump will push for the separation of air traffic control operations from the Federal Aviation Administration, embracing an approach long championed by US airlines, according to White House officials. Joined by airline industry executives, Trump is expected to point to the changes as a way of accelerating a more modern air traffic control system, the AP reports. "We're really moving into the modern decade of technology in air traffic control. It's a system where everyone benefits from this," White House economic adviser Gary Cohn says.

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US airlines have been campaigning for more than two decades to separate air traffic control operations from the FAA. That effort picked up steam last year when the controllers' union agreed to support a proposal to spin off air traffic operations into a private, nonprofit corporation in exchange for guarantees that they would retain their benefits and salaries. But winning congressional approval would still be an uphill battle for Trump. Democrats have largely opposed the changes, warning that the proposed board overseeing the estimated 300 air traffic facilities and around 30,000 employees would be dominated by airline interests. They have also pointed to the unprecedented safety under the current system and noted repeated computer system failures in recent years by US airlines, questioning whether they are ready to handle complex technology modernizations. (Read more air traffic control stories.)

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