Air Transport World

Privatize it. (US air traffic control system) (editorial)

This past Feb. 1, a USAir 737 collided with a SkyWest Metro 3 as the 737 was landing at Los Angeles International Airport, killing all 12 persons on board the smaller airplane and 22 on the 737. The National Transportation Safety Board has not issued a final report on the causes of the accident but based on the evidence that has emerged, NTSB likely will find that heavy controller workloads, inadequate staffing and the lack of a satisfactory surface radar unit at LAX, 12 years after the first one was produced, contributed to the disaster.

ATW examines the specific problem of runway incursions elsewhere in this issue (see page 46) but from our perspective, the memory of that accident and the passing of the 10th anniversary of the 1981 Professional Air Traffic Controllers Association (PATCO) strike, compel a broad new look at the U.S. ATC system. And the conclusion that is being drawn, both here and by a growing number of aviation professionals, is that the time may have come to take the management and operation of the ATC system away from the FAA and place it in the hands of a quasi-governmental authority operating independently of the political powers that be. …

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