Aviation Policy News #162
By File:Boeing 737 MAX (23326959580).jpg:Aka The Beav from Seattle, Washingtonderivative work: Altair78 - This file was derived from: Boeing 737 MAX (23326959580).jpg:, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=60302805

Aviation Policy Newsletter

Aviation Policy News #162

The FAA's Role in the Boeing 737 MAX disasters, rethinking European air traffic control, and more.

In this issue:

FAA’s Role in the Boeing 737 MAX Disasters

In the aftermath of the Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX crash on March 10, but before the FAA issued its order grounding those planes, there was a media feeding frenzy because other governments had acted sooner. Even respected Wall Street Journal aviation reporter Andy Pasztor penned a story headlined, “Ethiopian Airlines Crash Highlights FAA’s Diminished Clout on World Stage.” I disagree.

Until March 13, when FAA Acting Administrator Dan Elwell issued the grounding order, there were no real data linking the Ethiopian crash to last year’s Lion Air crash caused by pilots’ unfamiliarity with the MCAS stall-prevention system. That new data was provided to FAA that day by Nav Canada, which retrieved it from the new space-based ADS-B tracking system, Aireon, of which Nav Canada is part-owner. It revealed erratic up and down flight movements by the Ethiopian plane prior to its crash, very much like those of the Lion Air 737. Both China and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) acted without any data, and in EASA’s case, without following its normal procedures. Sandy Murdock, a former FAA chief counsel, provided an excellent overview of this subject in the March 18 issue of JDA Journal, concluding that FAA had acted prudently. Rep. Sam Graves (R, MO), ranking member of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, and a private pilot, attributed EASA’s premature decision to emotion and political pressure. As for China, its officials likely seized an opportunity to one-up the capitalist West.

A second media frenzy followed soon after. Various safety and consumer advocates asserted that the Trump administration’s regulatory relief efforts had led to FAA being too lax with aerospace companies such as Boeing. The real story was unearthed by Seattle Times reporter Dominic Gates: There was a safety regulatory change that directly affected Boeing’s 737 MAX development and the MCAS, but it took place four years ago ( in 2015), during the Obama administration.

Citing information from Boeing and FAA engineers, Gates discovered pressure from FAA managers to delegate more than the normal safety assessment and oversight responsibilities to Boeing. (It has long been standard industry-wide practice for certain details of safety review to be delegated to aerospace company engineers, but the 2015 decision increased the extent to which this was done for the 737 MAX, which Boeing was intent on getting into production rapidly so it could compete with the growing sales volume of the Airbus A320neo). Gates quotes an FAA engineer saying that halfway through the certification process, “we were asked by management to re-evaluate what would be delegated [to Boeing].” And he added, “There was constant pressure to re-evaluate our initial decisions.”

What I find particularly disturbing is what Gates reports about the MCAS System Safety Analysis. In my first job out of MIT, doing systems analysis at Sikorsky Aircraft, one of the first things I learned was called “failure modes and effects analysis”—a crucial aspect of engineering design. The MCAS for the 737 MAX depended on input from a single angle-of-attack (AOA) sensor. General commercial aircraft practice permits reliance on a single input only if the probability of a failure is less than 1 in 100,000 and the result of a failure would be only “major.” If the failure of the system is judged to be “hazardous,” then the failure probability must be less than 1 in 10 million—and then at least two sensor inputs are required. The System Safety Analysis allowed for just one AOA sensor input—a very serious mistake, given what we now know about “catastrophic” 737 MAX failures.

But there’s more. The horizontal stabilizer (which non-aviation people call a “tail wing”) moves up or down to change the plane’s angle of attack. The original System Safety Analysis showed the maximum stabilizer movement that MCAS could command was 0.6 degrees. After the Lion Air crash, Gates reports, Boeing’s bulletin to airlines said that the limit was actually 2.5 degrees—a huge difference. Both a former FAA safety engineer who had worked on the MAX certification and a former Boeing flight controls engineer who was delegated by FAA to work on it told Gates that the Safety Analysis was supposed to have been updated to reflect any changes resulting from flight testing prior to final certification—but neither knew whether this had been done. The 2.5 degrees would almost certainly have led to a re-definition of MCAS failure as “hazardous” or “catastrophic,” requiring at least two separate AOA sensor inputs and possibly other design changes.

These are serious problems, and Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao made a wise decision in asking the DOT Office of Inspector General to audit FAA’s certification of the 737 MAX. What we don’t need, however, is congressional grandstanding on this critically important subject or calling people on the carpet prior to a careful, complete analysis of the facts. My guess is that some changes will be needed in the extent of delegation of certification responsibilities. But getting the right answers depends on a calm and serious assessment of what went wrong and what changes would ensure safe aircraft without imposing needless costs and delays.

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Cruz Re-Opens Debate on ATC Reform

The new chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Aviation and Space, Sen. Ted Cruz (R, TX), told a DC gathering of airport executives that he plans to hold hearings on what he termed air traffic control “modernization.” While declining to use the term “corporatization” or to explicitly mention separating the Air Traffic Organization from safety regulator FAA, the substance of his remarks clearly implied that.

First, he said that such a reform would “reduce the size of the federal government.” That’s certainly true if the majority of FAA’s current workforce (the ATO) were to be removed from the agency and turned into some kind of self-supporting entity, outside of the federal budget and not dependent on tax revenue or congressional appropriations.

Second, he noted that such reform is “supported by both unionized workers and free-market advocates—and there are not many policy areas where you see that kind of intersection.” That’s clearly the case with the 2016-18 House effort, which had the support of an array of free-market and centrist think tanks plus unions representing air traffic controllers, pilots, and flight attendants.

Third, he cited the experience of other countries that have “gone down this road.” The 60 or so countries that have shifted in-house (transport ministry) ATC to free-standing status all have:

  • Made them self-supporting from fees based on ICAO charging principles;
  • Removed the conflict of interest inherent in having aviation safety regulation and ATC operations in the same organization (again, consistent with ICAO recommendations); and,
  • Enabled long-term financing of major modernization efforts (such as NextGen and facility modernization) via long-term revenue bonds.

Importantly, Cruz acknowledged that the general aviation community has legitimate concerns about this kind of reform, but invited stakeholders to come together to seek common ground on improving a system on which all of aviation depends. Only such an all-stakeholders effort has any chance of succeeding.

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Will Corruption Lead to Changed Airport Governance?

There seems to be a direct correlation between airport ownership by a city government and both micromanagement and corruption in the awarding of contracts and leases. These are not problems we generally see at airports run by airport authorities or those operated by private companies under long-term public-private partnership (P3) leases.

Two high-profile examples are Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International and Chicago O’Hare, both of which have been in the news over the past year or two. In both cases, the federal government is investigating current or former elected officials for such practices.

The Atlanta imbroglio dates back to the firing of former airport director Miguel Southwell by then-Mayor Kasim Reed in 2015. Southwell said his firing was due to his objecting to long-standing practices of airport contracts being steered to friends of elected officials—and in particular Mayor Reed. After extensive legal exchanges between the parties, Southwell and the City reached a settlement in 2016, in which Southwell was granted severance pay of $85,516. But investigative reporting by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution documented an additional $147,000 paid to Southwell, of which there is no record in city financial documents. Further digging by AJC reporters unearthed evidence of major conflicts of interest between the mayor’s former law firm (hired to represent the airport) and various airport concession companies. As of last fall, corruption at the airport and within the city government was under investigation by a federal grand jury, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and the FAA. Earlier this month, a prominent contractor who has bid on airport contracts was indicted on bribery and other charges.

Meanwhile, in December former Chicago Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans, responding to a question from the Chicago Sun-Times about a federal raid on the City Hall office of Alderman Ed Burke, cited five examples of him interfering in airport business. One or two of these were petty (throw-your-weight-around stuff), but several were of greater consequence—demanding that a sole-source airport transportation contract be extended rather than re-bid; pushing for major changes in a contract with the in-terminal advertising contractor, and insisting that each and every one of more than 50 airline leases Evans had negotiated be brought individually before his Finance Committee for review. The FBI raided Burke’s office in November, seizing computers, flash drives, and paper files relating to various city contracts and real-estate deals.

The question naturally arises: why do voters, the business community, and honest elected officials put up with this kind of corruption? Why don’t people realize that airports are vital businesses that need to be insulated from politics and corruption? Many Georgia legislators are disgusted with Atlanta’s corruption, and that has helped generate support for a bill in the current legislative session to change the governance from city ownership to a regional airport authority. The track record of airport authorities is better than that of city-owned airports, in terms of both insulation from corruption and airport efficiency and productivity. And on the same day that Atlanta contractor was indicted, the Georgia Senate passed the airport authority bill. But the city government and the airport’s anchor tenant, Delta Airlines, will go all-out to prevent this from happening.

An alternative for the city of Atlanta, which would not remove total control, would be a long-term P3 lease of Hartsfield Jackson. A major advantage to the financially-stressed city would be the ability to use the lease proceeds to shore up the city’s balance sheet—perhaps by reducing the large under-funding of its public employee pension system. This kind of asset recycling was proposed twice for Chicago Midway Airport, but both times the proposed deal fell through. The track record of “privatized” airports worldwide is excellent. (Atlanta’s pension plans are only 69.7 percent funded; Chicago’s are only 26.4 percent funded.)

As I wrote in an article for the January/February issue of Airport Business,

“Thirty years ago a city considering ‘cashing out’ the value of its airport might have been accused of risking the airport’s future for some quick bucks. But today, with world class airport companies backed by infrastructure investment funds and a sound vetting process that carefully negotiates a long-term agreement, a city could end up with a more-productive, passenger-friendly, and de-politicized airport. That would be good for airlines, passengers, and taxpayers alike.”

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Time for Airlines to Rethink PFC Opposition

Last August, bond-rating agency Moody’s released a report on likely projects at the largest 25 US airports between 2018 and 2022. The bottom-line conclusion from their analysis was this: “We expect aggregate costs incurred by all airlines for rents and landing fees, paid directly to airports, to rise 30 percent from fiscal 2017 levels by 2022, due to the capital plans of the 25 largest airports.” And assuming fixed-operating and debt-service costs, and steady demand, the average cost per enplaned passenger (CPE) will increase significantly by 2022. Moody’s broke this down by airline, finding that United would face the largest CPE increase: $4 more than its current average of $15 (28 percent). American’s increase would be $3 over its current average of $11 (39 percent). Delta and Southwest would fare somewhat better, with increases of $1.40 and $2 respectively.

Moody’s noted matter-of-factly that airlines are expected to pass along these increases to passengers, which will not be that big a deal since airport costs are typically only about 2 percent of airline expenses. Which immediately raises the question of why airlines spend so much time and money lobbying against any increase in airport passenger facility charges (PFCs). Trade association Airlines for America always argues that any increase in fees added to tickets will reduce demand for flying, yet that has not stopped them from adding baggage fees and many other ancillary charges that most passengers pay. Yet passenger growth has been exuberant ever since the end of the Great Recession.

Marc Scribner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute put out an excellent brief on the arguments against an increase in the federal PFC cap last month. It answers misleading claims on PFCs made by the generally sound National Taxpayers Union (NTU). Here are several of them.

NTU claimed that the 2018 FAA reauthorization act called for a GAO study on airport diversion of PFC revenues. That is false, as NTU should have known. The study is to be a review of overall revenue diversion by the 13 airports that were given a blanket exemption from FAA’s grant assurance banning revenue diversion. That provision was enacted in 1982, nearly a decade before PFCs even existed.

NTU echoed airline claims that with an uncommitted $7.5 billion in the Airport & Airways Trust Fund, there is plenty of money available for airport capital projects, presumably by expanding the federal Airport Improvement Program (AIP). But Congress has shown no inclination to increase the annual AIP budget in recent years, nor have airlines lobbied for this. That’s because what most airports need is expanded terminals, and most AIP grants can’t be used for that purpose (71 percent of AIP goes for runway, taxiway, and other airside projects).

NTU also claimed that airports would be hurting themselves if they were allowed a PFC increase, because large and medium airports (the ones most in need of more bondable PFC revenue) lose part of their AIP entitlement the higher their PFC is. But Scribner points out that for the past decade large hubs have been willing to give up AIP grants altogether in exchange for removal of the federal PFC cap. PFC revenues can be used for all kinds of capital projects (except for revenue-producing facilities such as retail). Large airports were supportive of a bipartisan bill last year by Reps. Peter DeFazio (D, OR) and Thomas Massie (R, KY) that would have removed the cap but required airports charging more than the current $4.50 cap to give up all their AIP funds—and it would accordingly have reduced the annual AIP budget by $400 million.

That sounds to me like a win-win proposition for airports and airlines alike.

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Rethinking European Air Traffic Control

In some ways, last year was the worst year in history for European airlines, airports, and passengers. On the one hand, the number of flights increased by 3.8 percent, with November and December growth even higher. Alas, there was also record-high en-route delay of 19.1 million minutes. That was more than twice as much as in 2017. Strikes, as usual, caused some of this, but actually only 15 percent. Weather was also a factor, but some 60 percent was caused by lack of capacity. Eurocontrol Director General Eamonn Brennan noted last June that without major changes, things will be much worse by 2040. And average delay minutes per flight can be misleading. A September Aviation Week article pointed out that in 2017 the average total delay (airport and en-route) was 17.5 minutes. But not all flights were delayed: for those that were, the average was 32 minutes.

Airport and airline groups alike have made repeated calls for reform to reduce delays and disruptions. Individual airports and air navigation service providers (ANSPs) are working on small changes, such as airport collaborative decision-making and using time-based separation (across borders) to reduce delays in airborne holding patterns by slowing down flights, when necessary. But the scale of the problem demands larger-scale change.

Eurocontrol has announced that this summer, its Network Manager will re-route some flights around congested French and German airspace, an action which it carried out on a smaller scale in summer 2018. Going beyond that is the idea of a unified upper airspace that would “decouple en-route service provision from local ATC infrastructure.” In other words, a real “single European sky,” at least in the upper, en-route airspace. The SESAR Joint Undertaking developed the concept in coordination with Eurocontrol’s Network Manager. It includes a transition strategy that adds needed technology and information exchange, to be implemented over three five-year periods. The modeling suggests that by 2035 the system would be capable of handling 50 percent more flights than in 2017.

Making such drastic changes will require incentives for airlines and ANSPs to change established ways of operating. And that, suggests the strategy director of ANS-Czech Republic, Lubos Hinovsky, requires a change in how air traffic control is paid for by airspace users. Standard International Civil Aviation Organization(ICAO) charging principles, in global use since the 1950s, call for charging based solely on aircraft gross weight and distance flown. Charges do not vary by time of day or by the degree to which a particular route has demand greater than capacity. And in fact, the regime introduced by the EU Performance Review Body has focused on reducing the unit rate charged by ANSPs. That has not only worked at cross-purposes with demand-shifting, it has also reduced ANSP revenues needed for expanding their capacity.

Hinovsky’s white paper, “Air Navigation Service Providers—The Market, Prices, and Performance”—is summarized in an article by Ian Thompson in the current issue of Air Traffic Management titled “Pricing for Demand.” Hinovsky proposes two markets: the capacity market and the fluency market. The first would be based on the expected demand for a route, and would be defined for the entire route, independent of borders. (You can see how this fits with the unified upper airspace concept.) The fluency market would be based on real-time demand for a route on the day and time of the specific flight. The price for the capacity market would not change from day to day or hour to hour, and would provide basic revenue for each ANSP to cover its facility costs. By contrast, the variable fluency price would provide incentives for airspace users to operate some flights out of peak times or on less-utilized routes. A Europe-wide body would manage the upper airspace and oversee these two forms of charging.

Hiovsky labels his white paper a “theoretical concept”—and that’s what it is at this point in time. But it comes at an opportune time. European aviation stakeholders are motivated to make changes so that nightmares like 2018 are not the wave of their future. And the move toward unified upper airspace is a good fit for this kind of pricing. His white paper is available on the following website: www.airtrafficmanagement.net.

Note: in this article, I have focused on reforming the pricing of air traffic control services. Airports also have a capacity problem that pricing can help with. That’s a topic for a future issue.

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News Notes

New Remote Tower Company Enters U.S. Market
Frequentis, a global leader in remote (digital/virtual) control towers has teamed with long-time FAA contractor Raytheon to offer the company’s remote tower services in the United States. The decision appears to be a response to Congress’s action, in the 2018 omnibus appropriations bill, in providing FAA with $2.5 million to explore the role of remote towers in the United States. The initial focus of their efforts will be contract towers, more than 100 of which are beyond their useful life and need replacing.

ADS-B Surveillance of North Atlantic Beginning March 27
The air navigation service providers (ANSPs) of Canada (Nav Canada), Ireland (IAA), and the U.K. (NATS) will begin a joint trial of space-based ADS-B surveillance across the North Atlantic the last week of March. The two-phase operational trial will run through November. ADS-B position updates will take place every 5 to 8 seconds, compared with current updates via datalink once every 14 minutes. The aim is to use the far-more-precise position information to reduce longitudinal spacing from 40 nm to about 17 nm and lateral separation (between tracks) from 30 nm to 15-19 nm during the project’s second phase.

Denver Terminal P3 Revamp Hits a Snag
The privately-financed $1.8 billion expansion and remodeling of the central terminal at Denver International Airport may suffer a delay, though not due to any problem with the P3 team led by Ferrovial Airport. Testing of the compressive strength of portions of the 25-year-old concrete main floor slab revealed portions lacking sufficient strength to support construction crane loads, Engineering News-Record reports. Other work is ongoing, while further tests of the floor are being conducted. The Denver Post (Feb. 19) reported contractor estimates of up to a 10-month delay.

CLEAR Adds Cleveland, Now Serves 28 Airports
In mid-March screening-lane bypass company CLEAR began service at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. CLE is the 28th airport to host this service, which also operates at 14 non-airport facilities around the country. More than three million travelers have signed up for this service that lets them identify themselves biometrically as one whose background has been checked and then go right to the checkpoint, bypassing the regular and PreCheck lines.

Norway Launches Contract Tower Program.
Following the lead of Spain, the U.K., and the United States, Norway has launched its own contract control tower program. Avinor, the country’s self-supporting air navigation service provider (ANSP) held its first competition last fall, offering five-year tower operating contracts for the towers at Alesund and Kristiansand. From the four bidders that responded, Avinor selected Saerco, a company that operates contract towers in Spain. The winning bid offers cost
savings estimated at 37 percent, reports Air Traffic Management.

HungaroControl Wins New Mandate for Kosovo Airspace
The ANSP of Hungary will continue indefinitely to manage the upper airspace of Kosovo, based on a renewed agreement with NATO. Due to war and civil unrest, that airspace had been closed for 15 years, until being reopened via a NATO agreement with HungaroControl in 2013. This is the only case (so far) of a European ANSP providing ATC services outside its own boundaries; Budapest is 700 km from Kosovo. Re-opening this airspace changed air travel patterns in Europe, and that growth accelerated last year.

NASA Will Test Urban Drone Traffic Management in Texas and Nevada
Last month NASA announced the selection of two entities to carry out pilot testing of the agency’s UAS Traffic Management (UTM) system. The Lone Star UAS Center for Excellence and Innovation (Corpus Christi) and the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (Las Vegas) will demonstrate flight management, collision avoidance, vehicle-to-vehicle communication, and automated safe landings in what NASA terms “demanding urban environments.”

Vinci’s Lyon Airport Launches Robotic Car Parking
This spring passengers driving to Lyon-Saint Exupery Airport will have a new parking option. Instead of searching for a parking space, the driver can select one of 12 new secure single-car temporary garages to leave the car, then board a tram to the terminal. One of a fleet of robots will retrieve the car and move it to a spot in a closely-spaced 500-car lot. On returning to the airport, the driver will notify the parking service and the car will be retrieved by the robot and returned to one of the secure garages, where the driver will retrieve it. The project is a joint effort between Stanley Robotics and Vinci Airports. If this initial operation proves feasible and cost-effective, it could be expanded to several thousand parking spaces. A video is available: https://www.interntionalairportreview.com/news/82979/lyon-airports-new-robotic-car-parking

TSA Budget Cuts Federal Air Marshals; Ups Passenger Fee
The White House budget proposal would cut a modest $30 million out of the $803 million FAM budget while adding funds to hire 700 more screeners and buying more 3-D checkpoint scanners. To help pay for the increased TSA budget, the White House proposes increasing the $5.60/passenger (one-way) security fee by one dollar.

Free Route Airspace Expanding in Northern Europe
Isavia, the ANSP of Iceland, last month announced the completion of its part in the Borealis Alliance Free Route Airspace (FRA) program. The alliance is a joint effort of nine northern European ANSPs to enable direct routes to be flown throughout their flight information regions without regard to national borders. Isavia’s project is the fourth of seven steps in the overall FRA program.

ENAV Acquires IDS Navigation Division.
ENAV, the part-privatized ANSP of Italy, will acquire 100 percent of the air navigation division of IDS (Ingegneria dei Sistemi). IDS develops software for air traffic management and aeronautical information management. The acquisition is expected to assist ENAV’s D-Flight platform that offers UAS traffic management capabilities.

Airlines and City Council Sign Agreement for $1.5 Billion Kansans City Terminal
The replacement terminal for Kansas City International Airport is nearing construction start, following FAA approval of the financing plan and approval of the term sheet by the city council and the airlines serving MCI. Airline fees and charges will provide the revenue stream for bonds that will be issued for the $1.5 billion project.

Eurocontrol and Brazilian ANSP to Exchange Real-Time Flight Data.
DECEA, the ANSP of Brazil, last winter signed an agreement with Eurocontrol’s Network Manager to exchange real-time flight data for the 100 or so daily flights between Brazil and Europe. The real-time information is expected to result in increased capacity in European airspace. According to Eurocontrol, this is the first transatlantic flight data-sharing system, though it agreed to a similar information-sharing system with the UAE in 2015.

NATS to Assist Brisbane Airport Corporation
Airports International
reports that the ANSP of Britain—NATS—has signed an agreement with the Brisbane (Australia) Airport Corporation. NATs will provide BAC with consulting services related to its new master plan over the next two and a half years. BAC projects that its passenger traffic will double between now and 2035. Expansion plans include a new parallel runway and a larger passenger terminal.

Legal Challenge to Heathrow Runway Under Way
Aviation Daily
(March 13th) reports that the expected legal challenge to London Heathrow Airport has been filed with the UK High Court. Plaintiffs include London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Greenpeace, and several local authorities. Friends of the Earth is bringing a separate challenge, alleging that the government’s approval of the plan is unlawful, on grounds that it breaches UK climate change policy.

Yet Another Projected Opening Date for Berlin Brandenburg
The ever-receding opening date for the new Berlin Brandenburg International Airport was announced last fall as October 2020. The new terminal at the former East Berlin airport at Schoenefeld was begun in 1998, when two consortia submitted bids to develop and operate the airport as a 50-year public-private partnership (P3), and the Hochtief team was selected as the winner. But a change of government policy led to that approach being dropped in 2003. The original opening date for the government-managed new terminal was to have been 2009. But the nearly completed terminal was then found to be in violation of fire protection standards, along with other problems. That led to significant reconstruction, with a projected opening date of 2011. But the changes were so extensive that the terminal required recertification. Whether November 2020 is realistic remains to be seen.

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Quotable Quotes

“There have been concerns raised in the past [about ATC modernization]. But I believe it is possible and indeed essential to get the stakeholders together and find common ground, because there are policy victories to be had, and if we are improving the environment, saving money, and improving safety, that ought to be a win-win all around. And indeed, the experience of other countries that have gone down this road previously underscores the potential benefits the United States has in front of us.”
—Sen. Ted Cruz (R, TX), “Cruz Talks ‘Modernization,’” Politico, March 8, 2019

“Airports tend to be attractive nuisances to politicians: so many jobs, contracts, and perquisites tempt the elected officials to sway what would otherwise be straightforward technical decisions in favor of constituents. . . . [The former Chicago Aviation Commissioner’s memo] is a great example of the airport as an attractive nuisance. Aside from any improper activities being assessed by the FBI, politicians assume that one of the reasons why a government body owns an airport is to ‘help’ manage it.”
—Sandy Murdock, “Evans’ Burke Complaints Point to the Value of an [Airport] Authority,” JDA Journal, Dec. 17, 2018

“The airlines wrote the book on differential pricing. Flights at busy times in busy airspace should cost more. Do you really think that airlines are pricing flights at busy times to busy airports at bargain basement prices? Furthermore, airlines file flight plans with the aim of optimizing their operations. That means they put in the routing they want to fly, not what circumstances will ultimately dictate. We then charge them on the basis of that filed flight plan. So if a flight is subject to a diversion caused by, say, a capacity shortfall in an ANSP en-route, and it thus flies a longer route, the ANSP that actually delivers the service does not get paid;
the ANSP that was hoped to be the service provider gets paid. Airlines [thus] have no incentive to take control of their flight planning, and ANSPs have no incentive to deliver better service. That is particularly harsh on ANSPs that
could do so more cheaply, or indeed, do so at all.”
—Andrew Charlton, “What a Piece of Work Is a (Wise) Man Person Group,” Aviation Intelligence Reporter, February 2019

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Robert Poole is director of transportation policy and Searle Freedom Trust Transportation Fellow at Reason Foundation.