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How to Commercialize Air Traffic Control

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The record levels of air traffic delays in the summers of 1999 and 2000 have revealed an air traffic control (ATC) system stretched beyond its limits. And not only are delays at record levels; so, too are runway incursions and operational errors by controllers. Clearly the ATC system is in crisis. The purpose of this report is not to make the case for commercializing ATC; we and others have done that elsewhere. Rather, this report's purpose is to propose how, in some detail, it might be done. Our intent is to set forth a realistic proposal for shifting the current ATC functions out of the FAA and into a self-supporting, nonprofit corporation governed by a stakeholder board and regulated at arms-length for safety by a slimmeddown FAA (which would also continue to operate the Airport Improvement Program--AIP--to make airport grants). We suggest a number of reasons why corporatization would benefit employees: an improved performance-oriented corporate culture, state-of-the-art technology, marketbased compensation, possible gain-sharing (sharing in savings from productivity increases), and the seat on the corporation's board.