U.S. Air Traffic Oversight Slammed on Cost, Efficiency in Report

  • Inspector general finds FAA reforms haven't made gains
  • Corporate control of FAA air traffic backed by some lawmakers

Repeated efforts to reform the U.S. air-traffic system have stumbled, according to a watchdog report that will add fuel to calls by lawmakers who want a nonprofit corporation to manage flight monitoring.

Hoped-for cost savings and improvements in efficiency at the Federal Aviation Administration’s Air Traffic Organization haven’t materialized in spite of decades-long attempts at reorganization, the report released Wednesday by the Transportation Department’s inspector general found.

The FAA’s total budget has risen by 95 percent to $15.9 billion from 1996 through 2012, according to the report. At the same time, operational efficiency has fallen, the IG said in the report.

“FAA’s organizational culture, which has been resistant to change, further deters its reform efforts,” Lou Dixon, principal assistant inspector general for auditing and evaluation, said in the report.

Representative Bill Shuster, the Pennsylvania Republican who’s chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, announced in June that he will propose setting up a nonprofit corporation to take over the FAA’s air-traffic duties.

“This report shows that the FAA simply isn’t suited to successfully modernize our nation’s antiquated air traffic control system,” Shuster said in an e-mailed statement.

Most industrialized countries, including Canada and the U.K., have set up similar semi-private oversight of their air traffic systems.

The report, which was released by Shuster’s office, will add to the debate over whether to create such a system in the U.S.

Representative Peter DeFazio, an Oregon lawmaker who is the highest-ranking Democrat on the transportation panel, has said he’s skeptical of Shuster’s plan and expects to propose an alternative.

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