Since everyone agrees that rapidly increasing traffic volumes over the next 20 years will demand the FAA’s NextGen solution–or something very similar–it came as a surprise to hear a recognized authority ask whether there actually will be such a system. This is the almost unthinkable question that Neil Planzer, Boeing Phantom Works v-p for strategy and advanced air traffic management, posed at an Atlantic City, N.J.
Air traffic control
The House of Representatives issued its long-anticipated version of the FAA reauthorization bill last night, and user fees are not included. In lieu of user fees, however, the bill allows the FAA to raise fuel taxes a few cents per gallon and to charge a variety of miscellaneous fees, such as $130 to register an aircraft, $50 for an airman certificate and $45 for a medical certificate.
The European Space Agency (ESA) has launched the early development phase of the Single European Sky Iris program, a research initiative designed to improve air traffic management through satellite-based air-to-ground communication links. If the early development proposals are approved by the ESA Council next year, system development will begin in mid 2009.
As Eclipse Aviation awaits FAA approval of a new-design pitot/angle-of-attack probe to prevent a freezing problem that occurred during three test flights, the FAA issued an Airworthiness Directive in final form, effective tomorrow. Operators had been able to file an IFR flight plan but had to remain in VMC. The AD further restricts Eclipse 500 operations to day VFR, no IFR flight plans allowed.
As the FAA’s major programs such as NextGen make their way through initial planning and implementation, at least a few members of Congress feel that the agency needs some assistance with R&D. Chairman of the House subcommittee on space and aeronautics Rep. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) introduced the Federal Aviation Research and Development Reauthorization Act of 2007 with cosponsor Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) last week.
As a sign of possible things to come for business aviation, the European Commission and the FAA announced on Monday a joint initiative to reduce aircraft emissions and combat climate change.
United Parcel Service will save millions of dollars a year by introducing technology that is designed to provide improved aircraft spacing for arriving aircraft.
Bombardier Aerospace is showing its CRJ900 NextGen regional-jet here in 76-seat guise and the uniform of Northwest Airlines subsidiary Mesaba Airlines less than two weeks after a sister machine was unveiled in Washington, D.C. For regionals like Mesaba, the NextGen CRJ “will have substantially lower seat-mile costs than [competing] Embraer regional jets,” according to commercial-operations vice president Rod Williams.
There was good news for Alaskan pilots last week, when FAA Administrator Marion Blakey introduced the agency’s draft 2008-2012 Flight Plan, along with the NextGen Concept of Operations, to Congress.
Northrop Grumman’s UK subsidiary, Park Air Systems, has been selected to supply air traffic control upgrades in Central and Eastern Europe worth approximately $15 million.