Strike in France foreshadows difficulties with NextGen

Even though there is no single silver bullet that will solve the NY region's airport woes, some improvements like NextGen will likely be part of the solution. This important technological upgrade of the nation's air traffic control system will have numerous benefits, which we covered in a previous post.

For all its benefits, implementation of NextGen will not be without challenges, one of which will involve negotiating with various labor groups over the duties and responsibilities of an air traffic controller under NextGen. 

A recent New York Times article highlights the difficulties France is experiencing as it modernizes its air traffic control system under an initiative known as Single European Sky. Specifically, air traffic control unions are threatening to strike over these changes, fearing they will lose some civil servant benefits or even lose their jobs as a result. 

True, controllers in the US would face legal ramifications if they were to strike (leaders could get jail time and unions are normally fined), making a strike less likely here. However, the French experience does drive home the point that the transition from our current air traffic control system to NextGen will have to be carefully and thoughtfully managed, and that all stakeholders must be included in the process.

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