The idea for what is now known as the ProJet started four years ago during a conversation between Carey Robinson Wolchok, then a principal at private equity group Aero-Equity, and Israel Aircraft Industries founder Al Schwimmer. That conversation was obviously influenced by the then recently announced Eclipse 500 very light jet, and a relationship was born.
Small Aircraft Transportation System
As professionals engaged in business aviation, each of us probably has questions about what lies ahead for our community. Will there be sufficient airspace and runway capacity to accommodate an increasing number of operations without a subsequent increase in delays? Will the ATC infrastructure be improved, and if so, whose voices will dominate the debate for designing a new system?
NASA’s small aircraft transportation system (SATS), a five-year, $69 million project aimed at maximizing the benefits of light aircraft and small airports, announced at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh that it selected four teams to participate in its initial research and development phase. The Maryland team will focus on evolving existing flight procedures, integrating new technology and studying human factors.
Previously this column has addressed efforts within the federal government to transform our nation’s air transportation system. Policy leaders believe that the business model of traditional airlines has reached its limit and simply is incapable of meeting the need for efficient travel.
Despite having received millions of dollars in federal government funding, NASA’s small aircraft transportation system (SATS) has been described as “unpromising” by the National Academy of Sciences, which was asked by NASA to review the concept.
It is good news that the joint program and development office (JPDO), formed recently at the direction of Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, is crafting a national policy on air transportation. Many voices, among them mine when I served as president of NBAA, called for a vision and mission statement by the U.S.
NGAMC is the new aviation acronym on the block, according to air-taxi operators DayJet, Jet-Alliance, Linear Air and SATSAir, very light jet OEM Eclipse Aviation, their suppliers and the communities the air-taxi operators serve.
Our community will face greater change in the next 10 years than we experienced in the last 50. We will see new communications, navigation and surveillance equipment, as well as changes in piloting requirements and procedures. A new class of very light jets (VLJs) will emerge, and owner pilots will be operating them in airspace previously the pur-view of professionals.
The FAA, NASA and NCAM (National Consortium for Aviation Mobility) hosted SATS 2005 Sunday through today and drew a larger than anticipated crowd of visitors, including the Administrators of both the FAA and NASA.
Just as very light jets are on the verge of joining the new generation of general aviation aircraft produced by Cirrus and Lancair, NASA has begun field demonstrations of its Small Aircraft Transportation System (SATS) in preparation for a more comprehensive proof-of-concept drill next summer at the Danville Regional Airport, Va.
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