Yesterday, Mike Perrone, national president of the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, AFL-CIO (PASS), issued a statement strongly opposing any plans to privatize the U.S. air traffic control system (ATC). PASS, the union that represents 11,000 employees at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), released the statement in response to today's House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing on the FAA reauthorization.
"The FAA employees represented by PASS ensure that this country's National Airspace System is operating safely and efficiently every day," said Perrone. "Stripping air traffic control from the federal government will only introduce uncertainty and risk into the world's safest and largest aviation system."
PASS's statement covers a variety of topics, including the economic impacts of a privatized ATC system, concerns with a lack of congressional oversight, possible government security issues, and the inherent problems associated with having a corporate board with special interests that would dictate everything from fees to modernization efforts to safety activities.
Of utmost importance, PASS emphasized that the FAA employees who perform vital aviation safety work must remain federal employees, and that this is critical to a safe and efficient National Airspace System. "The impacted federal employees include those who work closely with aviation systems and equipment on a daily basis—employees who are trained specifically to perform such delicate work with the sole focus on ensuring the safety of the flying public," said Perrone. "It is unfathomable—even dangerous—to consider gambling with the future and safety of our air traffic control system through privatization."
Privatization proponents also ignore the fact that this ATC reform proposal would undermine modernization efforts. "This argument disregards an essential detail: the FAA is making very real progress through the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen)," said Perrone. "This progress—and the corresponding benefits being realized now and in the future—will be forced to a standstill if the system is privatized."
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