THOUSANDS of flights were delayed Wednesday morning and hundreds canceled in the latest air travel headache.
Well, this time it wasn’t an airline to blame, but the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the government agency that provides air traffic control services in the US. It reportedly grounded the flights after an outage of its Notice to Air Missions System, which provides pilots with important information updates. Mistakes happen, but the FAA is catching heat because its technology is outdated and it hasn’t modernized its systems, making it more susceptible to this kind of problem.
But what else would you really expect from a government monopoly on a service?
As National Review’s Dominic Pino explains, “The FAA is both the industry’s safety regulator and the provider of air-traffic-control services. But there is no reason for the FAA to do both of those tasks. It should instead continue to regulate safety while its air-traffic-control responsibilities are handed off to the private sector.”
We could have a privatized, efficient air traffic control. Canada—yes, Canada—actually has a privatized system. As Pino recaps:
“Canada has proven that private air-traffic control is also sound in practice. In 1996, under a Liberal government, Canada privatized its air-traffic-control system, creating a nonprofit corporation called Nav Canada that is fully funded by users of the system and thus doesn’t cost taxpayers a cent. Looking back over its first 20 years of operations, Robert Poole of the Reason Foundation found in 2016 that Nav Canada had succeeded in just about every respect: Safety was improved, technology was modernized quickly, and costs were reduced.”
Some policy experts have advocated for years now that the US should also shift to a privatized system.
“Since Canada moved to a privatized ATC system, it has been able to modernize its air traffic technology faster than the United States,” the American Action Forum reported in 2017, also noting that it has achieved lower costs per flight hour.
More broadly, they note, “removing air traffic control from governmental constraints has allowed other countries to modernize their technologies at rates faster than the United States, while maintaining a safe system with lower costs.”
Maybe we should give this kind of alternative system a look. Or we can keep having flights delayed and more incompetence by government bureaucrats. It’s our choice, America.