With the continuing strains on the U.S. national budget and the possibility that the Administration’s sequestration program could last for several more years, Pentagon planners are said to be worrying that the costs of the future GPS III system could become out of reach, despite its major advances and the need to have modernized replacement satellites ready to be deployed as the orbital lives of current satellites end.
Avionics and ATC » ATC
News, issues, personnel, equipment and developments about air traffic management.
The FAA’s NextGen ATC modernization program faces long-term technical risks and still uncertain acceptance by airspace users. But after a decade in development, NextGen could be stalled by a nearer-term threat: substantially reduced funding from Congress. In June, the House appropriations committee released transportation funding legislation for Fiscal Year 2014 that would reduce the FAA’s capital funding account, which supports NextGen programs, to its lowest level since 2000.
The FAA claims the NextGen Air Transportation System initiative is progressing, according to its recently issued NextGen Implementation Plan report, which projects a reduction in delays of 41 percent by the end of the mid-term implementation period in 2020.
A request for tender (RFT) issued by Airservices Australia last month for the “oneSky Australia” program presents a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to field a joint civil and military air traffic management system by 2020, according to the government-owned air navigation services provider.
Prime contractor Raytheon and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration have finished installing the standard terminal automation replacement system (Stars) at the first of 11 large terminal radar approach control (Tracon) facilities in the U.S. Air traffic controllers at the Dallas/Fort Worth Tracon started “continuous operation” with Stars ahead of schedule in early May, Raytheon announced at the Paris Air Show last month.
If ever there was a Comeback Kid in avionics, it would have to be the FAA’s wide area augmentation system (Waas). Heralded by the agency in 1994 as the future Swiss Army knife of navigation, Waas was going to bring greater accuracy and enhanced reliability to the sometimes unpredictable GPS and, in so doing, promised a new era where satellites would replace not only the nation’s NDBs and VORs, but also the more than 600 Category 1 ILS installations in the National Airspace System at the time. Development would cost more than $300 million, and take about four years.
ITT Exelis has been awarded a $42 million contract from the Aireon venture to provide automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) data processing and distribution for its satellite-based air traffic surveillance system. Aireon, a joint venture of Iridium Communications and Nav Canada, will provide aircraft position reports to subscribing air navigation service providers (ANSPs) using hosted ADS-B payloads on the Iridium Next constellation of satellites.
Air navigation service providers (ANSPs) have extended their ability to track aircraft flying on far northern Atlantic routes by installing automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) stations in Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Iceland.
“Remote tower” ATC systems advanced by Saab have passed site acceptance testing in Norway and Sweden, paving the way for broader acceptance of the technology at small and regional airports that have no manned tower or a tower that is temporarily staffed during the day.
Air traffic controllers are using advanced procedures to space aircraft closer together on takeoff and landing at major U.S. airports, making early progress toward a major goal of the NextGen ATC modernization effort: increasing airspace capacity.