Don't Privatize Air Traffic Control, Essay Sample

Published: 2018-08-20
Don't Privatize Air Traffic Control, Essay Sample
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  United States Airline industry
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1227 words
11 min read

Military Communication

This paper intends to explore the negative effect of passing the law to the work of air traffic controllers. Air traffic control plays a crucial role in ensuring organized and fast flow of air traffic. The bill presented to congress seeking to have ATC privatized has led to a debate on the matter. The move will also give the workers the right to strike, a move that may lead to delays and disruption of travel plans when the staff strike over work-related issues. Communication with the military especially during a crisis may be hampered. In addition , air traffic control is like the nervous system of the aviation industry and privatizing it will be seen to be in bad faith and as laxity on part of the government in making good use of the taxpayers money.

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The main role of air control is to help organize and hasten air traffic flow while at the same avail crucial information and support to the pilot. There are other functions of such an activity in some countries. It may be controlled by military or other agencies depending on the country. ATC utilizes traffic rules and other systems that are designed to ensure the safety of all stakeholders in a given flight. For instance, collision avoidance helps pilots to be aware of neighboring aircraft that may be getting too close and as such ensure safety. The issue of privatizing air traffic control has in recent years elicited huge debate. Democrats and republicans have tended to lock horns on the issue with both sides to the debate presenting facts to support their view. Privatization of air traffic control is bound to have a negative effect on the work of air traffic controllers.

Freedom to Strike

Another major downside to the privatization of air traffic control is that it gives ATC workers the freedom to take part in staff strikes. Their function is too sensitive for there to be room for striking workers. The current oath that their air traffic controllers take prohibiting them from participating in industrial action will be excluded in case of privatization (Furchtgott-Roth, 2016). The reason is that workers of private entities usually do not have to such kind of an oath as is the case when the controllers work under the government. If they refuse to work because of certain grievances, they may bring important functions to a standard still posing a serious security threat to the country. The risk of having one’s trip disrupted, will be high, as the labor unions may hold airlines and travelers hostage. A return to work formula may not be reached in a good and timely manner. Employees may also end up not losing anything whenever the strike regardless of whether their actions were not right. Walking scot-free severally may promote indiscipline among the workers and as such affect their performance at work.

Privatization of Air Traffic Control

Privatization of air traffic control may also hamper the good flow of communication between relevant stakeholders. When air traffic controllers work under the government, they are able to coordinate with other departments that are necessary especially in times of a crisis or matters of national security. In the case of an attack on the U.S., in a situation where ATC has been privatized, there may be a problem in synchronizing the activities of the military and ATC unit. It is important that the military works closely with air traffic control units to avert any serious threats to the country and its citizens (Board, 2016). The relationship between the military an d the private sector when it comes to sharing of sensitive or classified information is not a good one. The military is very selective on who it shares its intelligence with and may not work harmoniously with the private sector. A small issue that could otherwise be sorted out through agreements with different departments may take longer to settle in case privatization takes place.

An example that best illustrates the importance of not privatizing air traffic control is in the events that followed the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. Once both military and controllers of air traffic became aware of the catastrophe that had befallen the country, they were able to coordinate their activities and order all airplanes to land at airports closest to them immediately. Fighter jets were then deployed to the cities of New York and Washington DC, to secure against any subsequent attacks. The level of communication and coordination of the activities was great. If the ATC services had been privatized at that time, it would have been hard for the two sides to synchronize their activities in good time. The effects would have been too grave to contemplate. Most Americans would not be happy if matters of national security are improperly handled due to disagreements between the government side and the private organization handling air traffic control (Board, 2016).

Inefficient Use of Taxpayers Money

The government has a responsibility of ensuring that all money collected through taxes is not misappropriated. Handing over crucial government functions to the private sector sends the wrong picture to the citizens. It is a sign of inability to meet its core functions. ATC is the nervous system of the country’s aviation industry (Edwards & Poole, 2010). This is one of the functions that the government cannot afford to shed to a private entity. Air traffic controller feel like they are directly serving their country when working under the government. The case is different when they render their services to private firms. The may tend to feel that they are enriching private entities that are not keen on ensuring the greatest benefits go to the American people. They may see the government as failure in its duty to the citizens. In such a scenario, some may fall prey to incentives from outside forces intending harm on the country to divulge crucial information that may jeopardize security.


Clearly, privatization of air traffic control is bound to negatively affect the work of air traffic controllers. With the freedom to participate in workers strikes, air traffic control companies may disrupt travels and hold travelers hostage as they try to deal with workers’ grievances. Indiscipline among workers may jeopardize service delivery. Another problem is that it may inhibit efficient communication and coordination of activities with other relevant government departments such as the military especially during a time of crisis. In addition, air traffic control is a sensitive job which the government cannot afford to hand over to the private sector.


Congress needs to consider the challenges that are bound to come with a privatized ATC and ensure that such a bill does not sail through to become law as it will jeopardize the functions of air traffic controllers. There should be a stream-lining of the current activities of ATC units to promote greater efficiency.


Air traffic controllers: Occupational outlook handbook: U.S. Bureau of labor statistics. (2016, April 18). Retrieved November 6, 2016, from material-moving/mobile/air-traffic-controllers.htm

Edwards, C., & Poole, R. W. (2010, June 1). Airports and air traffic control. Retrieved November 7, 2016, from atc

Furchtgott-Roth, D. (2016, February 17). Privatize air-traffic control? Not if it’s a union giveaway. Retrieved November 6, 2016, from

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