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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

America’s most famous airline pilot has shot down President Trump’s proposal to privatize the nation’s air traffic control system.

“Our air traffic control system is the best and safest in the world,” declares Captain Chesley Sullenberger in a new video produced by the Alliance for Aviation Across America.

Sullenberger famously guided a crippled passenger jet to a safe water landing on the Hudson River in January 2009, a display of calm heroism that saved 155 lives and inspired a Hollywood movie.

“Why would we give such an important and valuable national asset to the largest airlines, the same people who continue to make your airline seats smaller and closer together, who often put expedience and cost reduction ahead of the safety and the welfare of others in the long term?” Sullenberger asks.

In early June, President Trump called for privatization of the air traffic control system as part of his so-called “infrastructure week.” Previous Republican proposals for privatization have stalled in Congress due to bipartisan opposition, and Trump’s endorsement did not improve its prospects.

Sullenberger’s opposition puts a public face on the privatization issue.

Sullenberger, played by Tom Hanks in the movie “Sully,” says regional and rural airports “would probably lose capital funds” as a result of Trump’s proposal. “That’s really the danger in my mind.”

The AAAA is a non-profit composed of general aviation organizations, many of them in farm states and rural areas.

Sullenberger favors leaving air traffic control in the hands of the Federal Aviation Administration.

“What we need is someone overseeing our air traffic system whose motivation is doing what’s right for America and Americans, and not for their own industry or themselves,” the veteran pilot says.

Watch:

Jefferson Morley is AlterNet‘s Washington correspondent. He is the author of the forthcoming biography The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton (St. Martin’s Press, October 2017) and the 2016 Kindle ebook CIA and JFK: The Secret Assassination Files.