Trump has been so hard at work keeping his campaign promises that many smaller but important proposals and changes are underreported. In May, for example, part of the budget proposal included a section to address problems with air travel.
Specifically, Trump has a plan to fix air traffic control. You may not have realized that it needed fixing, but considering that it is run by the government, you probably aren’t completely surprised.
As a part of the ongoing effort to relieve the burden of excessive regulation and decentralize power from the government, Trump has proposed a private alternative to national air traffic control.
The idea borrows from successful implementations in other countries that would create a non-profit company with the sole responsibility of maintaining air traffic control. This would serve two major goals: eliminate taxpayer funding for air traffic control, and modernize the entire process.
This is probably the most efficient way to prepare for the continued growth of air travel and traffic, and it could open the door for personalized, automated flight in the near future.
How it Works
Currently, all air traffic is managed directly by the FAA. This represents a significant chunk of the organization’s overall budget, and the general bureaucracy of fighting for funding has kept many modern tools out of the process.
Trump’s proposal would enable the creation of a new corporation that is solely dedicated to managing air traffic – freeing up some of the FAA’s responsibility. While the government would spend money on a transitional phase, the corporation would ultimately be funded by flight fees. In general, any flight that had to file a flight plan would have to pay a fee proportional to the number of passengers and distance being travelled.
This eliminates all tax funding in the long run, and current estimates suggest that it could save $46 billion from the federal budget over 10 years. Because the company would be self-sustaining, it would not be dependent on Congressional approval to upgrade equipment, and it would even be incentivized to improve efficiency all around.
Why Technology Matters
We generally assume that upgrading technology will help any field. Aviation is no different. Currently, the entire grid is still based on ground-level radar equipment that was installed in the 50s. Airlines are desperate to make better use of GPS and other tools that are more precise and reliable.
This technology would enable flight paths to be 25 percent more efficient — making room for more flights and minimizing the cost of each flight. These savings would inevitably be passed onto consumers.
Obviously the left is in an uproar, but we’ll address their primary concerns seriously.
Their biggest complaint is that this move would give too much power to the airlines. As the primary source of funding for an air traffic company, they would certainly have the largest voices. The counter to this argument is that the FAA is not being abolished. It will still handle regulation and oversight, and, because it won’t have the burden of manually directing every flight, it will be more empowered to enforce regulation.
Ultimately, the balance of power does not shift in this scenario. Furthermore, the airlines will push for the options that enable them the highest number of flights at the lowest cost, and that is good for air travel in general.
The other big complaint is that this move won’t really help the situation. Critics argue that the short-term transition costs aren’t worth the long-term savings. They might also suggest that more efficient air traffic control won’t help the airlines. But with Trump’s current proposal, the 10-year cost and savings will balance each other, and that assumes the transition will cost twice as much as experts have estimated.
As for airline efficiency, air traffic control problems are currently responsible for 25 percent of all travel delays. Even cutting that in half would equate to massive savings for the industry. Considering how competitive air travel is, there is no reason to doubt that these savings will reach consumers.
Trump is moving forward with his promises to fix the budget and boost the economy. This is yet another two-for-one approach at cutting costs on both ends through privatization and deregulation. There are clear examples of the process working well in first-world countries like Canada leaving little room for argument against the plan.
The left really only objects for two reasons. The plan came from Trump, and it moves power away from a central government they hope to control again in the future.
~ Liberty Planet