In June, Transportation Chairman Bill Shuster introduced H.R. 2997, The 21st Century AIRR Act. Couched as a way to “privatize” the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) outdated air traffic control (ATC) systems, Shuster’s bill was shopped around to House Republicans, the airline industry, and special interest groups and sold as the conservative answer to a much-needed overhaul of an aging system and a welcomed transfer of power from public to private hands.
While efforts to roll ATC systems into the 21st century are commendable, the problem lies in the bill’s execution. When examining exactly how it purports to privatize the ATC, it’s clear that the federal government will still play the leading role in the life of whatever new entity is created.