ATC Privatization

November 1, 2008

QIndustry observers, think tanks, and some airlines have proposed a variety of management structures for the FAA’s air traffic control system. Do you believe air traffic control is a fundamental government function or should be spun off to the private sector?

Barack Obama

I am firmly opposed to privatizing the air traffic control system, and I believe that air traffic control is a governmental function.

John McCain

I believe it is the federal government’s responsibility to ensure that interstate transportation is efficient and safe. We clearly couldn’t leave it up to the states to construct a seamless coast-to-coast air traffic system. Many of these proposals you refer to are the result of frustration with the performance of the FAA and its management of the air traffic control system. These frustrations are the result of genuine concerns about how long it takes the FAA to bring on new equipment and its seeming inability to stay within budget. I am willing to look at ways of restructuring or reforming the FAA to make it perform better, but I don’t think spinning it off to the private section is a viable option since there is little support within Congress or the aviation community for doing so.

Next: There has been a lot of discussion about aviation and the environment. Given that pilots are very sensitive to anything affecting the cost of flying, how would your environmental policy address these concerns?