US air traffic control would be taken out of FAA and placed under the management of an independent agency under President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget proposal.

Details of the Trump administration’s budget proposal were released Thursday. While the Department of Transportation and State Department would both see substantial cuts in their budgets, the most significant proposal for commercial aviation concerns ATC.

If followed through, it could mark the first real move toward US ATC reform, something most US airlines, the aerospace industry and air traffic control union representatives have long campaigned. It would separate ATC funding from the annual, uncertain federal budget process and allow long-term budgeting for ATC modernization.

The proposal was welcomed by IATA, which issued this statement: “We welcome the Trump administration’s support for ATC reform. The air transport system is vital to the American economy but the US is falling far behind in the introduction of new and more efficient ATC technology to cope with the nearly 500 million more passengers expected to travel by air to, from and within the US by 2035.

Furthermore, the constraints of the federal budgetary, managerial and procurement processes create enormous structural hurdles to modernization. Now is the time to move forward with transformation in the US through the creation of a separate, corporatized non-profit entity to manage US skies. IATA hopes that this will be one of the major achievements of the Trump administration and the 115th Congress.”

Karen.walker@penton.com