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The Editors

It’s Time to Privatize Air-Traffic Control

It’s no accident that controllers still track planes with little slips of paper. Congress is making the FAA’s job all but impossible.

We can do better.

We can do better.

Photographer: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Each day, more than 45,000 flights bearing nearly 3 million passengers take off and land safely across the US. Rather remarkably, the Federal Aviation Administration manages this sterling record with technology dating (in some cases) to the 1940s. Yet in recent months the calm skies have started to look troubled.

At least eight serious safety incidents have occurred at US airports so far this year, including a near-miss on Feb. 4 when a FedEx Corp. cargo jet flew within 100 feet of a Southwest Airlines Co. passenger flight outside Austin. A few days later, an Air Canada Rouge plane was cleared for takeoff at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport just as an American Airlines Group Inc. jet was given permission to land — on the same runway. The American crew “self-initiated” a go-around to avert catastrophe.