Tech Startup CEO: GA Needs to Join ATC Privatization Discussion
Roei Ganzarski, CEO of Seattle-based aviation software firm BoldIQ, says an ATC shakeup is needed — and it’s time for general aviation to be a part of the process. By Stephen Pope
Roei Ganzarski, the CEO of BoldIQ, a transportation logistics software startup firm based in the Seattle area, says that whether you agree with Donald Trump’s politics or not, on the issue of ATC privatization the president is 100 percent right.
Privatizing air traffic control would lower costs, boost efficiency and usher in new technologies that are impossible to implement quickly under the current NextGen ATC modernization program managed by the FAA, he argues.
“ATC in this country is antiquated. The president is exactly right; by the time NextGen technologies are implemented, they’re already outdated,” Ganzarski said. “Privatization could solve all of this by enabling ATC to advance at the same rate as the technology aboard aircraft has.”
His message for general aviation? It’s time to stop fighting to block privatization and focus instead on ensuring this segment of the industry has a place at the table.
“For ATC privatization to work, we need equal representation from all parties, including the airlines, general aviation and even the military,” he said. “No one group should be able to dominate the conversation about the future of ATC modernization.”
BoldIQ creates software solutions for aviation and ground-transportation companies. One of its major customers is Boeing-owned Jeppesen, which uses BoldIQ’s cloud-based scheduling software. Ganzarski himself is no stranger to Boeing, having served as chief customer officer for the plane maker’s Flight Services division in Seattle.
At a White House meeting with airline CEOs last week, Trump described NextGen technology rolled out by the FAA as the “wrong stuff” and signaled his enthusiasm for privatizing ATC.
The president’s comments drew a rare response from the agency, which pointed to $2.7 billion in benefits to the airlines and passengers thanks to NextGen modernization, and an expected benefit of another $160 billion through 2030.
“NextGen is one of the most ambitious infrastructure and modernization projects in U.S. history,” the FAA said in a statement following the president’s comments. “Its successful, ongoing rollout is the result of rigorous acquisition, program and portfolio management, and stakeholder engagement with the airline industry and other members of the aviation community.”
GA interests led by the National Business Aviation Association are opposed to ATC privatization, arguing that the corporate entity’s board of directors would be dominated by the airlines and the move inevitably would lead to the implementation of user fees for general aviation.
“It appears that some airline interests want to shift the conversation away from taking a bipartisan approach to modernization, to focus instead on their decades-long objective of privatizing ATC, funding it with new user fees, and placing it under the governing control of a self-interested, airline-centric board of directors,” said NBAA President Ed Bolen after the president’s sit-down meeting with airline CEOs.
Ganzarski’s response? “ATC privatization could be very good for everybody, and that’s the conversation we ought to be having right now.”
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