Air traffic control may be better private: Expert

Aging air traffic control
Aging air traffic control

Privatizing air traffic control could spur crucial updates to U.S. flight-monitoring systems, one transportation policy analyst said Monday.

A glitch at a Washington, D.C., area control center led to hundreds of flight delays and cancellations over the weekend. The problem—which is now resolved—has fueled calls to take some Federal Aviation Administration duties out of government hands amid budget issues and difficulty implementing reforms.

"We have the safest airspace in the world, but there is room for improvement," said Marla Westerfelt, a policy analyst at nonpartisan think tank the Eno Center for Transportation.

A Delta Air Lines Inc. Canadair CL-600 airplane departs Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Packaging certain FAA functions such as air traffic control into a non-profit organization could reduce the chances of congressional politics disrupting funding or necessary overhauls, Westerfelt contended in a CNBC "Power Lunch" interview. She added that the agency could possibly expedite safety updates with minimal tinkering from lawmakers.

Read MoreGlitch that canceled more than 400 US flights is fixed: FAA

Rep. Bill Shuster, Republican of Pennsylvania, is expected to propose legislation that would hand air traffic control to a nongovernmental organization. After he unveiled details of the plan in June, some consumer and travel groups expressed doubt over whether the move would actually help passengers.

Westerfelt added that stakeholders have proposed multiple different models, and implementing modernization could have more than one solution.