Shuster: Air traffic control system upgrade long overdue

U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) said the nation's air traffic control system needs to be modernized. | Contributed photo

U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, made opening statements ahead of Tuesday's hearing on a bill for reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration.

“The United States has the safest air traffic control (ATC) system in the world, but it’s becoming more inefficient, and we’re at risk of losing our lead in aviation,” Shuster said. “We critically need to modernize the ATC system, something the FAA has been working on since the beginning of the Reagan administration.  Unfortunately, we have too little to show for it except for cost overruns and delays. As a result, many stakeholders have understandably lost confidence in FAA’s ability to modernize.”

The current FAA authorization expires on Sept. 30. This will occur after nearly five years of extensions, including a partial shutdown that led to instability in the airline industry.

“We need to intensify the discussion about how we can achieve significant reforms in the next FAA bill,” Shuster said. “We need to talk about what other countries have done to successfully increase the efficiency of their air traffic control systems and separate them from the political processes that have created instability in our own system.”