NATCA vs. Nav Canada

[Updating: on guessing -- see below] The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) — the non-union union representing U.S. air traffic controllers — attacked plans to privatize the U.S. air traffic control system with the following statement:

Cleveland controllers alone handle more operations annually than Canada’s entire privatized system.

Cleveland airport? The airport serving that little city called the mistake by the lake? Presumably not, though it doesn’t hurt Carr’s cause to let congress think that’s what he meant. He’s almost certainly talking about Cleveland Center, one of the world’s busiest air traffic control facilities, handling traffic across an enormous part of the northeastern U.S. including two major hubs (Pittsburgh and Detroit) as well as most enroute traffic between Chicago and points east; according to their web page, they handle over 3 million operations per year.

That’s a lot, but is it more than all of Nav Canada? Not quite. According to this news backgrounder from their web site, Nav Canada handled 11 million operations in 2004.

Was Carr deliberately lying? Saying that “Cleveland” has more operations than Canada is clearly an attempt to mislead a bit (he’s hoping that members of congress will mistakenly assume he means the city of Cleveland, rather than an air traffic control unit covering much of the northeastern U.S.), but it might be going too far to call that a lie. What about the number? It might be possible to get a number bigger than 11 million for Cleveland Center simply by creatively counting all operations for all facilities under Cleveland’s airspace. For example, let’s look at an IFR flight from Detroit to Pittsburgh: Detroit tower handles the flight during taxi and take off, then passes it to Detroit departure for initial flight, which then hands it off to Cleveland center for enroute, which then hands it off to Pittsburgh arrival to set up the approach, which then hands it off to Pittsburgh tower for landing and taxi. If NATCA simply added up all of the operations for all ATC units underneath Cleveland Center, that single, short flight would count as five operations. I’m guessing that’s what happened. Nav Canada uses a single, electronic slip for flights from taxi to tie-down, so I’m pretty sure that they count each one only once.

I don’t know if it would be best for the U.S. to stick with its current socialized system or to move to a privatized, Nav Canada style system — I get good service from ATC on both sides of the border — but let’s keep the debate honest, and avoid any Enron-style counting on either side.

Update: one interesting point of discussion in the comments to this posting is my use of phrases like “I’m guessing” and “I’m pretty sure.” It’s worth noting that in both cases, the fuzzy stuff was an attempt to give Mr. Carr the benefit of a doubt — the cold facts alone look very bad for Mr. Carr in this case, and my guesses were attempts to try to find some way that his statement could have been an honest misunderstanding rather than a deliberate deception.

About these ads

About David Megginson

Scholar, tech guy, Canuck, open-source/data/information zealot, urban pedestrian, language geek, tea drinker, pater familias, red tory, amateur musician, private pilot.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to NATCA vs. Nav Canada

  1. Paul Tomblin says:

    I always thought “mistake by the lake” referred to one of their sports stadiums, not the whole city?

    Anyway, NATCA reacts like any union who thinks a job is in trouble. They aren’t going to be fair and unbiased, because that’s not their job.

  2. Tom Gray says:

    “I’m guessing that’s what happened,” you say. Then you say you want to keep the debate honest and avoid any Enron-style counting. You could start by not “guessing” anymore. The 11 million number you quote from NavCanada includes services provided by their “flight service specialists.” The 3 million number quoted by John Carr refers ONLY to Cleveland Center and he said that clearly in his speech at the “Newsmaker Breakfast.” Factor in all the other Cleveland area facilities (towers, approach control AND flight service stations) and you easily equal NavCanada’s 11 million operations. The bottom line is no ATC system in the world even comes close to matching the number of operations in the US system, and no system in the world comes close to matching our safety record. If it costs the FAA too much money to manage such a successful system, the fault does not lie with the rank and file controller, so why penalize them?

    George Bush is trying to find a way to pay for his big tax-cuts to the wealthy and his oil-grab in Iraq. It makes sense two of his biggest targets are the poor (the biggest benefactors of social security) and the strongest employee Union in the federal government.

  3. David Megginson says:

    Thanks to Tom Gray from NATCA for clarifying that Mr. Carr was referring to Cleveland Center’s 3M operations/year — Mr. Carr may have made it clear at the breakfast, but the NATCA press release, unfortunately, didn’t. So what is the source of the number Mr. Carr is using for Nav Canada that is smaller than 3M? Was he counting only IFR operations? According to this page, Nav Canada handled 3.75M in 2000 (I cannot find anything more recent), and that’s still more than Cleveland’s 3M operations (which would also include VFR advisories, I’d guess). The same page also lists 5M movements handled by control towers and 1.2M movements in addition handled by FSS (note also that at many airports in Canada, FSS fills the same role that a small tower would in the U.S., except that it doesn’t use the word ‘cleared’).

    Does NATCA have a page listing specific numbers and sources for Mr. Carr’s claim? If so, I’d be happy to add a link to it in the main posting, and post a correction if necessary.

  4. Eric Laing says:

    According to the GAO’s report, “AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL: Preliminary Observations on Commercialized Air Navigation Service Providers” (published Wednesday, April 20, 2005), Nav Canada handled 6 million operations in 2003. the report also indicates that safety levels have stayed the same, or improved, in the five countries they examined (Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom).

  5. Tim Duffrin says:

    David you orginally said:

    “but let’s keep the debate honest, and avoid any Enron-style counting on either side.”

    Come on David. As Tom Gray posted, you said in the original post, ” I’m guessing that’s what happened.” and then subsequently posted “which would also include VFR advisories, I’d guess”.

    There’s an awful lot of “guessing” on your part which appears to contradict your desire to keep the debate “honest.”

    There are probably numbers games being played on all sides of this debate. The ways in which operations are counted don’t appear to be detailed in any of the reports I’ve seen, so numerically it could be comparing apples to oranges. Also, operational error/safety comparisons which Eric Laing mentioned are pointless as well, as it’s easy to reduce operational errors by simply redefining how errors are determined.

    However, it’s indisputable that the Canadian ATC system pales in scope and complexity to the U.S. system.

    None of this contradicts the stated objective of the Bush Administration (backed by many pro-privatization supporters) to “examine” privatizing the U.S. system, including many recent closed-door/invitation-only meetings with loaded panels to detail whats wrong with the current U.S. system and what’s so great about the privatized systems.

    The current adminstration has also reduced funding for the FAA, asking it to do much more, including technological upgrades and controller hiring and training, with much less funding. Such a plan could be viewed as setting up the FAA to fail, which could only lead to alternate courses of action (such as privatizing).

    The deck is clearly being stacked by the Bush Adminstration. As for the numbers, that is a common game played by politicians…

  6. Frank Ch. Eigler says:

    Let’s grant the rather pro-government-union opinions of the NATCA folks (and other commenters). In what way would the relative complexity of the airspace logically imply a requirement to keep the staff in a union or on a government payroll? Unless such an argument is made, simply saying that one is more complex than the other is just not relevant to the cause.

  7. Mark Trent says:

    Here’s the point: bean-counters keep saying the U.S. should privatize and they continually point to Canada and other countries that have done that as “proof” that it is somehow better than the U.S. Air Traffic Control System. My stance is that the U.S. ATC system is the safest AND busiest in the world, bar none. Now, why would you want to model it after another country’s system, when it would be like comparing apples to oranges? You can’t automatically assume just because Canada (eg.) hasn’t had an increase in accidents or errors or poor service, that the U.S. won’t if they should privatize. They are two completely different systems. The U.S. has nearly two-thirds of the busiest airports in passengers (2004 numbers) in the world. They have also 23 of 30 highest airport traffic movements of the world. See http://www.airports.org for the numbers.

    To give 50+ years of aviation safety away to the hands of a profit-driven corporation makes no sense. The U.S. controllers are highly trained and experienced. To hand that over to an unproven group of individuals would be a huge mistake.

  8. Shay Bowling says:

    Basic math my friend. Use everyones numbers and add them up. Nav Canada, Faa , Euro control, Etc. The U.S. works 92%
    yes I said 92 % of the worlds air traffic. You dont have a clue until you stand in MY SHOES.

  9. David Megginson says:

    There’s no disputing that the U.S. system is the busiest, bar none, but I think its safety is about par with most other rich-country systems, private or socialized. When Canadian ATC privatized, one of the most critical points was that the controllers and specialists simply switched from working for the government to working for Nav Canada. If Canada had tried to do things differently — say, by letting a private company bring in a brand-new batch of inexperienced controllers — I’m sure that things would have gone very badly. Note that Canada didn’t simply contract out ATC to the lowest bidder (such as Haliburton or Boeing); instead, it set up a brand-new, heavily-regulated private company that took over administrative reponsibility for the existing ATC/FSS infrastructure.

    I don’t know if the U.S. system will better privatized, but it likely won’t be any worse as long as you keep the same front-line staff in place and just have different people signing their paycheques. After all, it’s the controllers and specialists who make the system work, not the managers and bean counters (and I’m a huge fan of both Canadian and U.S. controllers and FSS specialists).

  10. Adam Humpal says:

    I went to school with a controller at edmonton center and i have heard about what great working conditions yall have up there. and what great salaries you have and what a great worker morale. PUhhhhlease. govt running things isnt perfect but neither is the corporate way. you say private companies could update our technology quicker. i beg to differ. i worked for an airline. we were using early 80s computers and then as i was leaving in 2002 we got 486s. thats late 80s early 90s tech. if you really think a private company will be able to overhaul the whole system faster than the govt you are gravely mistaken. this is a huge infrastructure and rome wasnt built overnite. it amazes me how complicated our airspace is. there is no technology that will come in and solve all the problems, theres just too many variables.
    contracting is about profit for the contractor. the contractor gives the tax payer the feeling theyre saving them money when in reality theyre taking a large chunk to fund their own large lifestyle. yeah well run it for a lot cheaper. what they dont tell you is they run it with less staffing . you can argue that you really dont need as many controllers, but someone is getting fat off govt contracts. not just atc, there are numerous contracts here that are getting someone fat on the backs of the employees. just look into the hired truck program in chicago. contracting is a joke and a simple redistribution of tax money from the govt to a corporation or company.

  11. Tom Gray says:

    “I don’t know if the U.S. system will better privatized, but it likely won’t be any worse as long as you keep the same front-line staff in place and just have different people signing their paycheques.”

    Well there you go “guessing” again David. Talk about an impulse move: let’s scrap a 50-year-old ATC system that is the busiest, most complex and safest in the world because, what the heck, a privatized system “likely won’t be any worse.” You further assume the company who wins the contract will keep on the current staff of controllers and specialists. So let me get this straight: the government wants to privatize the ATC system because it will save tax dollars, but the new company will retain all the same controllers and at their current level of pay? How will that save any money? All it would do is change the name on the bottom of the check.

    The fact is the new company would NOT retain the same staff because they could not afford to, or if they retained most of the staff it would be at a lower pay. Look at what Lockheed-Martin has done with the FSS option. Sure, they love to say in their press releases they have retained all the FAA specialists at their current pay – what they don’t tell you is those specialists are offered a job through May, 2006. After that, it’s anybody’s guess what will happen to them. Keep in mind some of those specialists have been at their job going on 20 years and are just months away from being eligible to retire – of course that’s all gone now.

    Since you brought up the Enron accounting scandal, let’s talk about how all that came about. The most populous state in the US decided to deregulate and privatize its electrical utility system. Why? Because it had worked so well in a few smaller, less populous, less complex states. California developed an “Indepent System Operator” that was responsible for bringing in enough electricity to the state to be sold as a commodity to private companies who would then distribute and sell to their customers at a profit. Since California’s energy supply was now on an open market, and since the California law that privatized the system tied the hands of the Independent System Operator (it could not buy energy futures more than about 6 months in advance – ironically because lawmakers were worried they’d pay too much and could get energy cheaper with shorter-term contracts), companies like Enron jumped in and gamed the system. I know, I lived it. Setting my thermostat at 85 in the summer and STILL paying $200+ in electricity bills! Except Enron was greedy – stealing money from Californian’s wasn’t good enough, they had to cook the books and shuttle money offshore to compensate their top executives when the whole price-fixing scandal eventually came to light.

    But I’m sure you’ll tell me how electricity is different, and Mr. Frank Ch. Eigler will tell me complexity doesn’t matter. Well, the proof is in the pudding. I can cite you case after case of privatizations of large-scale industries that have gone wrong (have you read about NASA’s growing reliance on private contractor’s prior to the Columbia disaster?) and you can’t cite one that has gone right. Don’t start telling me how great things are going in Canada’s privatized ATC system because the scale is just not there and the Canadian government has spent more bailing out the contractor than it would have spent if it had just kept the system itself.

    As for the comments of Frank Ch. Eigler:

    “….simply saying that one is more complex than the other is just not relevant to the cause.”

    Well then you just don’t get it. If you run a mom-and-pop grocery store, would you go to the largest grocery conglomerate in the world and say, “here is how I run my five-and-dime, I’ll bet it will work for you too”? Would you be surprised if they laughed you right out of their front lobby?

    The fact is complexity does matter. What works for a group of ten won’t necessarily work for a group of 100 or 1,000. If it did we’d only need one cure for every type of cancer and every person suffering from heart disease would receive the same treatment.

    If I thought privatizing the US ATC system was a good idea, I’d say so. But the fact is any warts the US system has won’t be fixed by selling it to Boeing, Lockheed or Halliburton – ESPECIALLY if they just hang on to the same managers and bean-counters they have now.

  12. RIchard White says:

    What do you mean ” the non-union union ” when describing NATCA? Sounds negative.

  13. Mike Stabenow says:

    Air traffic control is inherently governmental IMO. You can’t take a service where the bottom line is safety and run it by any organization where the bottom line is profit. The two goals are diametrically opposed. Profit is acheived by cutting corners on training, equipment, staffing, development, etc. NAVCanada is good at one thing – self promotion. Their employees are coping with low morale and high stress. If you take those characteristics and apply them to a system where the traffic is significantly greater, the mistakes made will be exponentially compounded. It’s a bad recipe, I hope NATCA continues sounding the drum.

  14. Frank Ch. Eigler says:

    Mike S wrote: “Air traffic control is inherently governmental IMO. You can’t take a service where the bottom line is safety and run it by any organization where the bottom line is profit.”

    That of course does not follow. Many real businesses operate within tight safety constraints, like, say, airlines, food manufacturers, chemical firms, nuke operators. Some of them are even profitable.

    I don’t know how to argue with Tom G., given his implication that governmental services are inherently beyond reproach, and corporate ones inherently reproachworthy. There are just so many counterexamples to that rose-coloured image.

    Whether privatizing some system or other makes sense is really a more complicated issue than “government good, business bad”, or indeed “government bad, business good”.

  15. Tom Gray says:

    On May 18th, 2005 at 12:40 pm Frank Ch. Eigler said:

    “I don’t know how to argue with Tom G., given his implication that governmental services are inherently beyond reproach, and corporate ones inherently reproachworthy. There are just so many counterexamples to that rose-coloured image. Whether privatizing some system or other makes sense is really a more complicated issue than “government good, business bad”, or indeed “government bad, business good”.

    It appears you can’t argue with anyone on this issue because you don’t understand it. I never implied I felt government was always good and business was always bad. In reply to Mike Stabenow you said, “Many real businesses operate within tight safety constraints, like, say, airlines, food manufacturers, chemical firms, nuke operators. Some of them are even profitable.” Hey guess what – in the US every single one of the industries you mentioned are overseen by GOVERNMENT INSPECTORS! It’s no wonder they have such a stellar safety record, what with those pesky, overpaid bureaucrats looking over their shoulder all the time.

    This is not an argument over whether government is good and business is bad, we might as well argue which came first, the egg or the chicken. This argument is why would you get rid of a 50-year-old system that is the best, busiest and safest in the world? This is an argument over whether the Bush administration is really driven to reform government (as they state) or is it truly driven to line the pockets of its friends with huge tax breaks and lucrative government contracts (through privatization).

    You also stated: “There are just so many counterexamples to that rose-coloured image.” Really? You know, even though I never implied that government was better than business, I’d like to see you name – let’s say – 100 businesses that run better because they are a business and not a government entity. Go ahead, I’ll wait. I’m sure you’ll have no problem rattling them off since you said there are “just so many counterexamples.”

    Maybe you could start with Canada’s health-care system? Oh wait, the government runs that. I noticed Canada’s government-run health-care system provides service based on need and not on an ability to pay – what a concept. Kind of like how I provide air traffic service based on saftey and not on the ability to pay. Therein lies the rub.

  16. Frank Ch. Eigler says:

    Tom, your twist from “government operated service” to “government inspected service” is surely not too subtle a distinction to notice, is it? (I wouldn’t even necessarily agree with the implication that government inspection is that necessary or effective.)

    As for “This argument is why would you get rid of a 50-year-old system that is the best, busiest and safest in the world?”. As far as I know, the plans are not to “get rid of” the system, as in starting from scratch, or making drastic technical changes. Whenever you use hyperbolic language like that, how much credibility do you wish to sacrifice? But since we’re on the topic of hyperbole, a quick but somewhat unfair answer to your brave challenge to name “100 companies” … got one for you: compare similar operations 25 years ago, between an average western nation and that of the USSR.

    As regards to health … Canada’s partially socialized system is not as different from that of the US as you may imagine. It is far from satisfactory also, suffering from overgrazing of the commons, overworking of the front-line employees, specialist services requring months of wait, generally low morale, spiraling costs. Say, sounds a little like the US ATC system. Or something.

    Finally, the point is not to compare the greenery of the grass here and there. Privatization is a complex issue that deserves a little deeper level of thought than we seem to be managing here.

  17. Tom Gray says:

    “Finally, the point is not to compare the greenery of the grass here and there. Privatization is a complex issue that deserves a little deeper level of thought than we seem to be managing here.”

    NavCanada came to the US Congress singing the praises of the privatized Canadian ATC system – as I recall it was some of that Congressional debate that was at least partially responsible for touching off the debate here. There are privatized systems and there are government systems and in Canada we have an example of a government system that was privatized and the example has not been stellar – even you would have to admit that. In the US we even have examples of government-run corporations where the results are mixed – postal, mortgage-lending and public broadcasting to name a few. But really how are we going to decide whether or not privatizing ATC is a good idea or not if we don’t compare the “green-ness” of the grass on either side? What other measure would you choose? I’ll be the first to admit government has its inefficiencies, but as I said before if I thought privatizing ATC was a good idea, I’d admit it even though it could hurt my job status. I am, afterall, a tax payer.

    “Canada’s partially socialized system…suffering from overgrazing of the commons, overworking of the front-line employees…generally low morale, spiraling costs. Say, sounds a little like the US ATC system. Or something.”

    You really showed your hand in that paragraph, Frank. Phrases like “partially-socialized,” and “overgrazing of the commons,” tell me more about your political leanings and willingness to admit you are wrong than anything else you’ve written on this blog. Why not just say you are a member of what Marx called the bourgeois elite and be done with it? The point is Canada’s health-care system provides service on an as-needed basis and not based on the ability to pay – which is as it should be in my opinion when you’re talking about something as important as personal health and safety.

    As for US air traffic controllers having low morale and being over-worked, you’re in over your head. I don’t think most air traffic controllers feel over-worked, but they are certainly not under-worked by any strecth of the imagination. Morale is certainly not low – air traffic controllers see how managers are bungling the system (what rank-and-file employee doesn’t – government or business?) but they generally feel very good about their pay and what they do for a living. As for spiraling costs, that is not the fault of the front-line air traffic controller but the fault of the front-line FAA business manager of which the FAA has ZERO. Congress mandated the FAA to develop a basic cost-accounting system 20 years ago and it is still waiting. The FAA’s answer now appears to be “we’re paying controllers too much and that’s why we’re running out of money.”

    “As far as I know, the plans are not to “get rid of” the system, as in starting from scratch, or making drastic technical changes.” Actually, some of the companies at the front of the line to take over the system are proposing almost exactly that. Boeing has a proposal to completely revamp the navigation and monitoring technology used in the US today. Lockheed-Martin, who is probably the odds-on favorite to take over the day-to-day air traffic functions, would probably take a similar course with ATC that it has taken with FSS: keep the specialists on for 8-10 months and let them train their replacements. So yes, actually, some of the plans do include scrapping the current system and starting from scratch. No hyperbole on my part, and no loss of credibility.

    As for your comment “compare similar operations 25 years ago, between an average western nation and that of the USSR” you’re going to have to be more clear. Are you saying compare the success of a western business to that of a similar industry run by the Soviet government?

    Finally as to government-operated versus government-inspected: your point was that all those businesses operate safely and just fine on their own and you ignored the fact (or chose not to mention it because you knew it would weaken your argument) that they did so with government oversight – at least in the US. You now seem to want to argue that even government oversight is no longer needed. Well, I’m willing to give you enough rope to hang yourself.

    Get rid of all your government inspectors and government oversight. Then the first time people start dying from diseases transmitted through uninspected and infected food, or the first time people die from a cost-cutting airline that lacked effective oversight (think Valu-Jet), or the next time millions of dollars in damages are caused by a chemical or nuclear company that operated without any regulatory or government oversight (think Union Carbide in Bhopal or 3-mile island) – come talk to me but don’t expect any sympathy.

    In my opinion, there are some things the government needs to do and they pertain mostly to maintaining the safety of basic systems on which the citizens rely: transportation, food, health and home. Police, fire, medical services, food-supply and yes ATC need to be provided by an entity whose sole purpose is to provide its services safely and not at a profit. Government has its ineffeciencies, but so does business. Neither entity has a corner on the market of fraud, waste or abuse. So the real question then becomes how do we hold government as accountable as government holds some businesses? Privatizing ATC as a means to that end is, in my opinion, throwing out the baby with the bath water.

  18. Frank Ch. Eigler says:

    Oh no, someone so familiar with the historically proven ideas of Karl Marx has outed me as “burgeois elite”. My cover is blown. Run away….

  19. Tom Gray says:

    Deny, deflect and defer. The last course of a truly desperate person. You offer anecdotes, obtuse analogies and cute one-liners. I offer concrete and verifiable rebuttals to even your most inane assertions.

    With you as our opposition, I have no fears of ATC privatization in the US.

  20. Frank Ch. Eigler says:

    Not just burgeois, but desparate and impotent: that is I. Your perceptiveness leaves me nearly speechless. Perhaps you will be just as succesful in stunning the actual proponents of privatization. Good luck with that.

  21. Tom Gray says:

    I say again….

  22. Curtis says:

    We seem to have strayed from the point…..

    My opinion is that ATC is inherently governmental for several reasons:

    1. The ATC system is inherently monopolistic. There can cannot be two competing control towers operating at the same airport. The same can be said for any kind of radar control. Wherever a plane flies in this country it is under the jurisdiction of only one controller. Any competition in the ATC system could only come from bidding to see who gets to occupy the tower or radar facility.

    2. In business models, those customers that provide the most revenue get the most attention. Were the ATC system privatized, the airlines would surely have the largest say of any users in how the system is run. Since airlines operate for profit (supposedly), safety would be a secondary consideration for them.

    3. Air traffic control is a national security function. Civilian air traffic controllers regularly handle military and law enforcement missions. All FAA air traffic controllers are required to have a security clearance. Air traffic controllers must control Air Force 1, handle hijackings, bomb threats, and aircraft in distress. On 9-11 the ATC system accomplished the unprecedented task of shutting down this nation’s airspace safely in response to terroism with little fanfare. The ATC system was one of the few if not the only government agency which required little or no modification in its procedures after that event.

    4. Separating the ATC system from the rule making body would lead to inefficiency. Many of the new rules or rule modifications to the ATC system come from air traffic controllers in response to situations they have experienced. Air traffic controllers also aid in the design of airspace and equipment for the ATC system. Making the ATC system separate from the rule-making body would make those processes more difficult. The rule-making body would still have to be in charge of procurement of equipment for the ATC system in order to ensure compatibility with other facilities.

    5. Privatizing will not encourage air traffic controllers to move airplanes any faster without a change in separation standards. It is already in an air traffic controller’s best interest to move airplanes as quickly as possible. Any delay incurred in an air traffic controller’s area of jurisdiction results in more work for that controller. The only way a privatized system could move the airplanes faster is to reduce the amount of room between them.

    6. Bidding on a regular basis would put pressure on air traffic control companies to cover up or mis-report errors, as that would be a benchmark for their performance.

    7. Cost concerns would force private ATC companies to staff their facilities for average rather than peak traffic. This could let to a lower margin of safety and reduced capacity of the system, resulting in more delays rather than less.

    8. The ATC system is a national asset.. Much of the economy of this contry relies upon it.. Experimenting with a private system could cost this country billions of dollars. Transforming a system of this size is unprecedented in scope and complexity. Metrics for conversions of other systems world wide are dubious. Using the contracting out of this nation’s least busy towers does not give insight into the effects of privatizing the entire system. The fact of the matter is that no one can predict what will happen should we decide to privatize. Changing the most efficient ATC system in the world with billions of dollars at stake does not sound like a safe bet.

    9. The only way to staff a privatized system is with current controllers. Controller pay would have to be comparable, resulting in little personnel cost savings.

    10. General aviation would suffer. A profit-driven system with airlines as the largest stakeholders would provide less service for aviation. This can already be seen in systems in other countries. This short sighted behavior would eventually hurt the airlines as they rely on hiring experienced general aviation and military pilots.

    The bottom line for me is that there is no good reason to privatize the ATC system. Cost savings can be achieved through FAA reform. Changing the system is a huge risk. Safety should be the first consideration in any decision.

  23. Frank Ch. Eigler says:

    Curtis wrote: “My opinion is that ATC is inherently governmental for several reasons:”

    These may or may not be good reasons for considering ATC “inherently governmental” – I don’t want to spend kilowords arguing point by point. But the harsh reality is that ATC services are in fact provided by non-governmental agencies in many parts of the world. Thus your “inherently” really just means “possibly”.

  24. Tracy Hayter says:

    I have been an observer of NAV Canada since it took over air traffic services. I have many friends and some family members, who are or were employed by NAV Canada, and I have seen some very bizarre decisions made by NAV Canada with respect to their employees, etc.—some of which did not even make financial sense or promote safety in any fashion. When NAV Canada first took over, people were excited-optimistic. I doubt any of these people would be excited today. From what I have seen first hand, I would strongly advise you fight privatization–the grass is most certainly not greener north of the 49th parallel.

Comments are closed.