New Jersey Legislature supports bill to modernize national air traffic control system

Citizens for On Time Flights announced on Friday that 17 bipartisan members of the New Jersey State Legislature, as well as nine mayors and 10 business associations, expressed their support for reforms aimed at modernizing the nation’s outdated and inefficient air traffic control (ATC) system.

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The bipartisan 21st Century Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act was introduced in the U.S. House in June by U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA). It seeks to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through fiscal year 2020, and certain FAA programs through FY 2023. It would also move oversight of ATC operations to a federally chartered, independent, non-profit organization that includes all aviation stakeholders. Under the reforms, the FAA would continue to ensure the safety of all air passengers and fliers.
Written correspondence from the groups was sent to U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and U.S. Reps. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) and Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ).

“Like so much of our nation’s infrastructure, the technology underpinning the current system is woefully antiquated,” state Sen. Anthony R. Bucco (R-NJ) and Assemblymen Anthony M. Bucco (R-NJ) and Michael Carroll (R-NJ) wrote. “While undeniably safe and secure, the stubborn inefficiency of the current system is a burden to every member of the flying public and the economy writ large.”

Currently, the U.S. ATC system relies on ground-based radar technology dating back to the WWII. If enacted, the AIRR Act would remove those systems in favor of satellite-based GPS systems and expedite the implementation of the NextGen air traffic control modernization program. This change will help reduce delays and shorten flight times.

Nearly 68 percent of flight delays at Newark Liberty International Airport are attributable to the National Airspace System, which includes ATC operations, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. This is the highest percentage reported in the country. New Jersey also ranks 7th nationally for ATC-related arrival delays, costing passengers approximately $91 million in 2016.

“The New Jersey economy and its residents depend on our aviation industry for the safety and efficiency of both local regional airports and the larger international hubs in nearby cities,” New Jersey Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Tom Bracken wrote. “Given the importance of travel and tourism to our state, ensuring that we have the best air traffic control system in the world should be a priority.”

The AIRR Act is also supported by NATCA, the largest union of air traffic controllers as well as the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA), the Association of Flight Attendants, and all major U.S. passenger airlines.

A grassroots program, the Citizens for On Time Flights is dedicated to promoting more efficient air travel and advocating for air safety reforms, primarily including the modernization of the ATC system.