Why the U.S. Needs Air Traffic Control Reform
Earlier today I joined industry leaders and policymakers at the White House to celebrate the announcement of the new Air Traffic Control Reform Initiative. During this event, leaders emphasized that we must deploy new technology, modernize procedures, add capacity, and increase productivity in order to meet future anticipated demand, maintain our global leadership in safety, and avert gridlock. We agree.
Most Americans don’t realize our nation’s air traffic control system is still operating with World War II-era radar and paper strips. U.S. air traffic controllers do heroic work to keep travelers safe, but a third of these highly-skilled workers are currently eligible for retirement. Meanwhile, most of the world has adapted to modern-day travel needs by embracing innovations in superior aviation technology.
There’s no doubt we’re ready for a big improvement—a bold one. The current U.S. system must be improved to achieve increased capacity in the skies and on the ground. The solution to keeping the U.S. system from breaking is to remove operations from politics and put air traffic control under an independent organization.
In my role as President and COO of FedEx Corporation, as well as Chairman of the federal government’s NextGen Advisory Committee (NAC), I will continue advocating for air traffic control reform in America to increase safety and decrease time spent waiting on the ground and holding in the air. Implementing much-needed reforms will eliminate circuitous flight plans, which waste fuel and energy. A modernized system will allow for more precise flight paths, helping to limit the number of people impacted by aircraft noise. These reforms will also promote robust economic competition, and ensure a less labor-intensive working environment for pilots and controllers alike.
It’s time to be bold and aggressive on air traffic control. Nearly 2 million passengers board U.S. flights each day, and we must upgrade our air traffic control system from the age of rotary phones and telegrams. I’ll continue calling on policymakers in Washington to work with industry leaders like FedEx to implement a modern air traffic control system.