The growing opposition to yet another one of Trump’s half-baked ideas, privatizing the air traffic control industry, has a new voice speaking out: Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the retired US Airways pilot who happened to be in the news a few years back for his emergency landing in the Hudson river. Sullenberger’s ad is financed by the Alliance for Aviation Across America.
Congress is pondering the plan, which would be a rider on a bill to extend the Federal Aviation Administration’s authorization. But with the chaos around the ACA-repeal bill and other Trump-fueled blowouts, the measure never got to the House floor.
Sullenberger’s point is that our air traffic safety system is already the best and safest in the world. He argues we shouldn’t disrupt this system just to hand it over to private airway corporations which tend to value profit over consumer safety. Sullenberger has fifty years experience in general aviation, which he touts as his credentials to speak on this point.
The United States does see fewer incidents of air traffic mishaps than other countries, once you take into account that the United States is the busiest commercial air travel market on Earth. Americans per capita spend more time in the air than any other country. So it’s no trifle to dismantle such a huge infrastructure, particularly one nobody but Trump was complaining about.
Another problem with privatizing the air traffic control industry is that regional and rural airports would lose access to airspace. This would hurt the economy of anything but the most major cities, which includes all those Rust Belt voters who went for Trump.