The government’s air traffic controllers have been sleeping on the job, watching movies rather than guiding planes, and misdirecting the First Lady’s plane over Washington. There have been soaring numbers of airplane near misses caused by ATC errors over the last year.
Yesterday, the president said that federal government technology systems are “horrible” “across-the-board,” which isn’t good news for citizens hoping that the Federal Aviation Administration’s computers will land them safely.
The government’s air traffic controllers are very highly compensated, but they are unionized and they work for a mismanaged bureaucracy. The federal ATC system has had serious labor and management problems since the 1960s. And the president’s comment on technology rings true with regard to ATC — the FAA has had huge troubles for decades efficiently implementing new technologies. And things could get worse as air traffic volumes rise and the FAA struggles to implement next generation ATC systems.
The solution is privatization, as discussed in this essay and these blogs. Privatization promises better management, a more disciplined workforce, more efficient financing, better technology, and safer skies.