A Statement Concerning the Future of the U.S. Air Traffic Control System

Each of us has held a senior position within the FAA, and each of us continues to consult on aviation issues. In reviewing the FAA’s performance over the past decade-including recent years since enactment of various reforms by Congress-we have concluded the following:

Air traffic control is a 24 hour-a-day, 7 day-a-week high-tech service business. It can and should be operated by a separate corporate entity, paid directly by its customers, and directly accountable to its customers for its performance. This country can no longer afford to provide this 21st-century service using a 1950s-type organizational and funding approach.

Attempted reforms of FAA’s personnel and procurement systems have failed to materially change the agency’s organizational culture, which is necessarily bureaucratic, risk-averse, and not sufficiently customer-focused. Despite the increased funding promised by AIR-21, the FAA’s revenue stream is still uncertain, dependent on the ups and downs of the federal budget process. And efforts to convert the FAA’s Air Traffic Services into a “performance-based organization” within FAA will not convert it into a sufficiently customer-focused entity.

For the FAA to both provide air traffic control services and regulate the safety of ATC operations is a conflict of interest. The ATC service provider should be regulated at arms-length by the FAA, just as it regulates air carriers, aircraft and engine manufacturers, and all other components of the aviation system.

Therefore, we support the creation of a not-for-profit air traffic control corporation, along the lines proposed by Reason Public Policy Institute in its Policy Study No. 278 dated February 2001.


John McLucas
Administrator, 1973-77

Langhorne Bond
Administrator, 1977-1981

Allan McArtor
Administrator, 1987-1989

David Hinson
Administrator, 1993-1997

Al Blackburn
Associate Administrator for Policy, 1986-1988

Tony Broderick
Associate Administrator for Regulation & Certification, 1985-1996

George Donohue
Associate Administrator for Research & Acquisitions, 1994-1998

Robert Donahue
Associate Administrator for Airports, 1987-90

Michael Goldfarb
Chief of Staff, 1987-1989

Larry Hecker
Deputy Administrator, 1987

Sandy Murdock
Chief Counsel, 1981-1985
Acting Deputy Administrator, 1984

Joe DelBalzo
Executive Director for Engineering and Development and Operations, 1989-1992
Acting Administrator, 1993