DOT Inspector General Report Comparing FAA to Foreign Air Traffic Systems Highlights Risks to Continued American Aviation Leadership
Washington, DC, September 10, 2015 –Yesterday, the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General (DOT IG) issued an audit report requested by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee comparing the U.S. air traffic control system with the air navigation service providers of Canada, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
The following is a statement by National Air Transportation Association President and CEO Thomas L. Hendricks:
“The DOT IG’s report validates why Congress should proceed very cautiously in contemplating massive structural changes to America’s air traffic control, acknowledged as the world’s safest, largest and most complex. This report clearly demonstrates these international air traffic control systems are much smaller and less complex than our own. Also reported by the IG, these air traffic control providers, unlike the FAA, ‘do not embark on large, comprehensive modernization efforts such as NextGen transformational programs or conduct extensive aviation research and development.’ Instead, as the report notes, these air traffic providers rely on small, incremental changes using off-the-shelf technology. Europe’s efforts to orchestrate a multi-national modernization effort similar to the FAA’s, called SESAR, is producing mixed results and limited progress.
But just as important, the report highlights the risks these models pose to continued American leadership in aviation. There is no facility in Europe or Canada dedicated to aviation technology research such as the FAA’s world-leading William J. Hughes Technical Center in New Jersey. Further, Europe and Canada lack sophisticated policy mechanisms like the NextGen Advisory Committee (NAC) that gathers America’s aviation thought leaders together to provide highly valuable advice to policymakers. This effort is already helping transform our air traffic control system for both today and tomorrow. Interestingly, Europeans are key participants on the NAC. No other country or region in the world is providing this degree of aviation leadership to help guide this massive modernization effort.
This is a healthy policy debate with a worthy goal of determining how to deploy cutting edge technology in anticipation of future air traffic growth. The IG’s report clearly highlights whether corporatizing air traffic control really addresses the future needs of the world’s safest air traffic control system.”
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NATA, the voice of aviation business, is the public policy group representing the interests of aviation businesses before Congress and the federal agencies.
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