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Survey finds 'no reason to privatize' ATC

More than 60 percent of voters oppose privatizing the air traffic control system and turning it over to a nonprofit corporation, according to a telephone survey released Feb. 9 by the Alliance for Aviation Across America, the League of Rural Voters, and the Air Care Alliance.

More than 60 percent of voters oppose privatizing the air traffic control system, according to a recent survey.

The survey conducted by Global Strategy Group polled 800 registered voters nationwide between Jan. 30 and Feb. 5. It has a margin of error of plus/minus 3.5 percent.

General opposition to privatizing the FAA’s ATC functions surpassed 60 percent, while 62 percent opposed privatizing ATC “by taking it from the FAA and turning it over to a non-profit corporation.” Twenty-six percent supported such a plan, Global Strategy Group said.

The survey documented a perception of the FAA as “well-regarded,” and the agency was “seen as doing a good job managing the air traffic control system.”

Approximately 74 percent of those surveyed gave the FAA a positive job rating overall, while about 10 percent said the agency “does a not-so-good or poor job.”

“When asked more specifically to rate the job the FAA does operating the nation’s air traffic control system, 88% of voters say the FAA does an excellent or good job and only 8% rate the FAA negatively. Voters are currently very pleased with the performance of the FAA and see no reason to privatize it,” the survey said.

The opposition of voters to privatization was consistent across demographics of age, gender, education, region of the country, and party affiliation. The survey showed opposition by 60 percent of men, 63 percent of women, 61 percent under 55 years old, and 64 percent 55 or older.

Frequent travelers’ opposition to privatization registered at 65 percent, with 61 percent of less-frequent travelers or those who rarely or never fly also opposed.

Opposition to ATC privatization appears to have increased since a survey conducted in August 2015 indicated that 55 percent opposed turning ATC over to a nonprofit corporation.

In 2016, legislation to create an air traffic control organization outside the FAA ran into early opposition in Congress.

The chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), despite last year’s lack of votes to move a privatization proposal forward in the House, intends to push a similar measure again this year.

Dan Namowitz
Dan Namowitz
Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 35-year AOPA member.
Topics: FAA Funding, ATC, Advocacy

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