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NATCA President John Carr to Testify - (9/14/2000)

WASHINGTON — National Air Traffic Controllers Association President John Carr will be among a select panel of officials testifying Thursday before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on air traffic control.

Continued dissatisfaction with the progress of national air system (NAS) modernization and the mounting problem of aviation gridlock has led many industry and government officials calling for privatization and restructuring of the FAA.

Proponents argue that alternative organizational structures for air traffic control operations and the entire agency would improve modernization efforts and solve the problem of delays. But Carr strongly argues that this is not the answer.

"Privatization will not speed up the process of building new runways and airports," Carr said. "Safe, reliable, user-accepted equipment will not be developed and installed any faster. Privatization would, instead, fracture the delicate balance of a workforce that holds the system together."

The leading causes of aviation delays, as identified by NATCA, are crowded skies, unrealistic hub scheduling, weather, underutilization of airports and the increasing number of commuter flights.

Carr also will address the Federal Aviation Administration’s modernization effort. NATCA is a firm supporter of Administrator Jane Garvey’s "build a little, test a little, deploy a little" strategy.

"Many are quick to point the finger at the ‘outdated and antiquated’ air traffic control system as a major cause of delays," said Carr, who argues this is not true. "To refer to the air traffic control system as ‘outdated and antiquated’ is no longer an accurate characterization."

Carr maintains that the current system can be improved — if enough time is provided to do it. "Privatization will not speed up this process," he said.

"Given the nature of the air traffic control system, privatization is foolish and unfounded. The safety of the flying public should never be in competition with corporate profits."

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