US has world’s safest ATC system, but it needs improvement

WASHINGTON, DC - Nicholas E Calio, President and CEO of Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for the leading US airlines, today testified before the House Transportation and Inf

US has world’s safest ATC system, but it needs improvement

WASHINGTON, DC – Nicholas E Calio, President and CEO of Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for the leading US airlines, today testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee, urging members to follow the lead of T&I Chairman Bill Shuster and push for “transformational” change in the next Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization, including speeding efforts to modernize the Air Traffic Control (ATC) system and implement NextGen to make air travel more efficient.

“While the United States has been the leader in air traffic management and technology, and has the safest ATC system in the world, it needs improvement,” Calio said.

In preparation for the next FAA reauthorization bill, A4A is in the process of benchmarking and developing a fact-based assessment of the governance, financial and operational performance of the U.S., Canadian and European ATC models. In written and oral testimony, A4A notes that the FAA organizational structure and funding model hinder the agency’s efforts to modernize the ATC system and implement NextGen.

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Airlines have already invested hundreds of millions of dollars to utilize NextGen technologies, such as performance-based navigation procedures and have consistently asked to see greater benefits so that the business case for investment can be made. A4A members support NextGen, and airlines have provided operational data to the FAA, participated in pilot programs, and served on working groups and federal advisory committees – yet their opportunities to use that investment in the airspace has so far been spotty.

“We agree with the Department of Transportation Inspector General and Government Accountability Office reports that ATC modernization and NextGen implementation are not hindered by a lack of funding or technology, but instead by procedure development and approvals, which often cause lengthy delays and result in a lack of uniform support among users,” Calio said. “Expediting the most cost-beneficial components of NextGen is one of the five pillars of A4A’s National Airline Policy, which we hope the Committee will enact as part of the FAA bill. There have been undeniable difficulties related to U.S. modernization efforts, which consistently refer back to governance and funding issues that we need to resolve if we are to remain competitive.”

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