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NATCA: We Need An FAA Reauthorization Bill, Not Privatization - (9/23/2011)

CONTACT: Doug Church, 301-346-8245

WASHINGTON – The following is an open letter from NATCA President Paul Rinaldi:

Americans put their trust in our highly skilled, professional and experienced federal air traffic controllers to get them where they need to go, safely and soundly. And they should have confidence when they do: our nation’s air traffic controllers have a near-perfect safety record.

So when former Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag opined on Bloomberg View (“Private Air-Traffic System Can Soar,” Sept. 21) that our air traffic control system should be privatized, we must respond. Orszag, and others who share his view, are advocating a dangerous and misguided solution for improving what is already the world’s safest and most efficient system.

At best, privatization would devastate a core component of our economy – aviation contributes nearly three-quarters of a trillion dollars to our GDP. At worst, privatization would put our impeccable safety record at risk.

Orszag wrongly asserted that the privatized Canadian air traffic control system could be a model for our system. That’s ludicrous: the U.S. system handles half the world’s air traffic; U.S. federal controllers safely handle more than 10 times as much traffic as the Canadian system.

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association is committed to improving the U.S. aviation system through modernization and improved airspace efficiency and procedures. We are working collaboratively with the FAA and private industry on the NextGen air traffic control system, which is being developed with an emphasis on safety. We are already seeing positive results and efficiencies are being realized across our system.

What we need most is not privatization – a radical and risky idea – but a long-term FAA Reauthorization bill, which is currently pending before Congress. Passage of a long-term FAA bill would fund our aviation infrastructure and technology improvements, create more than 300,000 jobs and contribute to our nation’s economic growth.

We will continue to urge Congress to act. More importantly, we will continue to guide your flight home safely. It’s our sacred trust to ensure the safety of everyone who uses the world’s best aviation system.

PAUL RINALDI

President

National Air Traffic Controllers Association

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The National Air Traffic Controllers Association represents over 20,000 highly skilled air traffic controllers, engineers and other safety-related professionals.

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