Bush still backs ATC outsourcing

From GovExec: The Bush administration has reportedly rejected a tentative deal between Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., and Senate Commerce Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Trent Lott, R-Miss., to complete work on the four-year, $60 billion FAA reauthorization bill by imposing a one-year moratorium on the privatization of air traffic control towers, Senate aides and lobbyists said. Senate Democratic aides reacted angrily to the White House decision to reject the deal, charging it clearly shows the administration is set on privatizing the system despite claims by FAA Administrator Marion Blakey and other officials that they are not motivated by such an agenda. “We just think that it shows … they’re hell bent on farming out the air traffic control [system] to the private sector,” a Democratic aide said. Read the whole article here, but don’t let the misleading reporting and spastic quotations get to you. No one’s talking about privatizing the air traffic control system. The issue is the very safe, very successful Contract Tower Program (FAA oversight with outsourced management at small airports) and whether the FAA should retain the option to expand it. This fact sheet helps explain what this program is, and what it isn’t.