Your Flight Is Delayed: The frenzied battle to reform American air traffic control

“Amid the staggering number of political and policy controversies to roil Washington this year, one of the most significant has—forgive me—flown under the radar. It’s a battle that will determine the future of the United States air traffic control (ATC) system. And while the particulars may seem esoteric, the consequences could be huge.

Every time you board a plane, you are putting yourself at the mercy of an inefficient system guided by 1930s radio beacons, 1950s radar surveillance, and paper ticker-tape flight tracking. Far from being the envy of the world, the U.S. system for guiding aircraft is a backward analog relic in a digital age.

America’s Air Traffic Organization (ATO) is part of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), but for years, good-government activists and transportation policy wonks, myself among them, have argued for it to be spun off into a self-supporting nonprofit corporation. Now the House of Representatives looks poised to pass a bill that would do just that. As opponents ramp up their effort to halt that legislation, the debate, which would normally be confined to interest groups inside the Beltway, has begun to spill over…”

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