Recent efforts to turn over national air traffic control (ATC) to a nongovernmental entity have been met with fierce debate and faced several obstacles, but the House of Representatives may soon vote on the 21st Century Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization Act. The idea of ATC reform has persisted for years, but never gained any real political traction until recently. Supporters of the reform movement are calling for a private nonprofit to assume responsibility for ATC, claiming that the move will bring shorter wait times, more efficient routes, and fewer delays. Many opposed to privatization point out that the move would strip Congress of its authority to supervise ATC, while others argue it would result in giving too much power to the airline industry.
On November 1, 2017, James Burnley spoke about the future of air traffic control as part of a panel convened by the Brookings Institution. The panel included aviation experts who discussed the pros and cons of privatizing the air traffic control industry, possible political motivations of such a change, and the risks and opportunities that may arise from shifting the control of air traffic to the private sector.
After the session, panelists took audience questions.