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SecDef Weighs In On ATC Privatization

DOD Has Formed An 'Ad Hoc' Committee To Assess Relationship Between Department And ATC

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has weighed in on privatizing ATC ... on the side of spinning off the function from the FAA.

The Hill reports that Mattis (pictured) recently sent a letter to U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) saying that the Department of Defence  is "supportive of a possible privatization of ATC services and recognizes the potential risks."

Mattis said in the letter that the DOD has established an ad hoc committee charged with assessing the relationship between the agency and air traffic control as well as any linkages that might be necessary with a goal of ensuring ongoing privatization efforts as well as national security interests.

House Transportation Committee chair Bill Shuster (R-PA) called Mattis' support a 'huge deal'. "You have senators running around saying that’s one of the reasons not to do it. And Secretary Mattis is saying we support it,” Shuster said. Support from the DOD clears a major hurdle for those who support the plan to privatize ATC.

In a hearing full committee hearing on the topic Wednesday, Shuster said that "the FAA’s infrastructure is increasingly obsolete, and its technology is still cemented in the last century. As a result, shocking amounts of tax dollars and time have been wasted over the last 35 years."

But opponents, including many in the GA industry, feel that the spinoff would give airlines far too much power over the nation's ATC system. The ranking Democrat on the panel, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), noted during the hearing that airline CEOs were not testifying before the committee. "Perhaps they recognize that the American people are not interested in giving more control to the airlines when, between dragging a passenger off a plane and massive computer failures, they can't even get their own houses in order," DeFazio said.

(Image from file)

FMI: transportation.house.gov

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