While safety is at the top of her list of priorities, new Transportation Secretary Mary Peters told the third annual FAA International Aviation Safety Forum early last month that President Bush has charged her with modernizing the U.S. ATC system, “including new approaches to funding to deal with our aging infrastructure.”
Avionics and ATC » ATC
News, issues, personnel, equipment and developments about air traffic management.
The two federal government labor unions that represent air traffic controllers and employees of the National Weather Service (NWS) have asked the FAA to reconsider a plan to eliminate on-site meteorologist positions at each of the ATC en route centers. The FAA plans to contract with a commercial weather company to provide forecasts from one remote centralized location.
The User Request Evaluation Tool (URET), a conflict-detection tool that automatically detects and advises air traffic controllers of predicted conflicts between aircraft or between aircraft and special activity in airspace within the National Airspace System, is now operating at all 20 FAA en route centers.
Like the proverbial cat with nine lives, loran has once more rebounded from attempts on its life. Loran has always been owned and operated by the U.S. Coast Guard, which since the late 1990s has been trying to close down the system. Congress has consistently demurred and has each year put continuing operating funds for loran back into the agency’s budget.
Last year, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported a record 24.8-percent increase in traffic in the Middle East and a 50-percent growth in revenue passenger miles (rpm) since 2000.
Balancing available technology with the inevitable shifts in what governments will spend to achieve incremental gains, it’s tough to say what the air traffic management (ATM) environment of tomorrow will look like. Weren’t we all supposed to be living in a Free Flight utopia by now?
Perhaps contrary to the impressions of outsiders, flying business aircraft into and within the Middle East is not difficult. At least that seems to be the consensus of those who arrange planning and handling for international flight operations in this part of the world.
While speakers at the Air Traffic Control Association’s annual convention in Washington in October discussed a wide range of ATC technologies, both current and future, several presentations touched on a common underlying theme: where will the money come from?
Pratt & Whitney has announced upgrades to both its venerable JT8D engine and the PW4000 high bypass ratio turbofan. Improvements to the JT8D are aimed at enabling the engine to meet the latest ICAO Chapter 4 noise rules, which took effect in January. A noise-reducing kit will, says the company, provide a solution to operators of MD-80s wishing to avoid landing charges levied because of excessive noise.
Lockheed Martin announced its bidding team for the FAA’s nationwide automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) program. The team includes ground station manufacturers Sensis and Rannoch, avionics integrator Honeywell and secure network communications specialist Harris. The FAA plans to award a “performance-based” contract next July, under which the winner will fund, build and operate some 500 ground stations.