There is much debate about privatizing the air traffic control system. Those opposed say that the US ATC system is larger and more complex than the operations, for example, in Canada. Their position is that to transfer this program to the private sector is to put all US flights at risk.
The renewal of the Lockheed Martin contract to “privatize” the Automated Flight Service Stations provides a reminder that a segment of the ATC was moved out of federal sector. The delivery of flight information (NOTAMs, weather, system delays, flight planning and submission) to a geographically distributed pilot population twenty-four hours a day every day is a very demanding mission. By most accounts (or more accurately by virtue of the absence of significant criticism) the Lockheed performance has met the demanding expectations of the general Aviation community.
Might it be worthwhile to subject the AFSS contract to a microscopic analysis to see if there are any lessons learned; is this contract a basis for projection that the 100% privatization of the ATC system would work? If there are fissures in the performance, then there may be no grounds to use it as a positive forecast. If the analysis suggests that the AFSS issues can be addressed on a larger scale, that’s useful. If the Lockheed team has performed at the highest levels, such a rock solid record may suggest that the full privatization may work.
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