Voters nationwide strongly oppose privatizing the air traffic control system, according to a survey released Sept. 17 by the Alliance for Aviation Across America, the League of Rural Voters, and Air Care Alliance.
The telephone survey of 801 registered voters nationwide was conducted by Global Strategy Group between Aug. 8 and 12. Survey participants represent the national registered voter population, according to Jefrey Pollock, president of Global Strategy Group. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent at the 95-percent confidence level.
Fifty-one percent of those surveyed said they support privatization of government functions in general. But when asked about privatizing air traffic functions “by taking it from the FAA and turning it over to a non-profit corporation,” 55 percent of respondents said they were opposed. The numbers were essentially the same regardless of respondents’ party and demographic profile. The numbers also were consistent regardless of how often respondents said they fly.
The reason may be because they feel the FAA is generally doing a good job, particularly when it comes to air traffic control. Survey participants were asked to rate their satisfaction with the performance of various government agencies, including the FAA. Sixty-seven percent gave the FAA an overall positive job rating. But that figure increased when respondents were asked specifically about air traffic control. Eighty percent said the FAA is doing a good or excellent job operating the nation’s air traffic control system.
The possibility of removing air traffic control functions from the FAA is likely to be part of the discussion around FAA reauthorization. The FAA’s current funding package expires Sept. 30, and observers expect Congress to enact one or more short-term extensions of FAA funding while legislators work out a more comprehensive long-term reauthorization deal.