Former Free Flight Phase 1 director Charles Keegan has been appointed vice president for operations planning in the FAA’s Air Traffic Management Organization (ATO), succeeding Norman Fujisaki, who is retiring. Keegan will continue as director of the Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO), the interagency organization developing the long-term plan for the next-generation air transport system.
Next Generation Air Transportation System
In the ongoing saga of air traffic controller staffing, the FAA announced yesterday as part of its 10-year forecast that it is increasing controller hiring to better meet attrition and increasing system demand. The agency’s updated Air Traffic Control Workforce Plan now specifies the need for 15,000 new controllers over the next decade, up from previous plans for 12,500 new controllers over a similar period.
General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) president and CEO Pete Bunce used the association’s annual industry review and market outlook briefing to dispel the “myths” that the Bush Administration has put forth regarding the need for an overhaul of the FAA’s current funding mechanism.
General aviation’s concerns found a firm basis last month when the FAA presented a reauthorization proposal that includes a more than 300-percent hike in the fuel tax and myriad fees for obtaining a pilot’s license, registering an airplane or receiving a medical.
When the idea was initially being explored a number of years ago, FAA planners saw a use for automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) only in Alaska, where the technology would allow aircraft operating beyond the reach of radar to develop their own position data using onboard GPS equipment, and then transmit that data to others in the region through either a microwave satellite uplink and downlink or ground-based VHF network.
Last year, the Bush Administration unveiled its proposed “next generation air transportation system” and then cut the FAA’s facilities and equipment (F&E) budget request by nearly $400 million.
Following an acrimonious battle between the FAA and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association over the recently passed FAA reauthorization bill and a provision to privatize some control towers, the agency and the union signed a two-year contract extension last month that expands pay for performance to air traffic controllers and provides potential savings of several million dollars.
The FAA’s Annual Aerospace Forecast always tries to paint the most optimistic picture of the industry that the agency’s statistics will support, and this year proved to be no exception. On the airline side of the house, the agency said that the number of passengers will return to pre-2001 levels this year.
While most of NASA is reaching for the stars, the segment of the agency that conducts aeronautics research here on earth has taken a budget cut for the second consecutive year following President Bush’s initiative to expand the exploration of space.
H.R.2115, the House of Representatives’ “Vision 100–Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act,” was combined with S.842, the Senate’s “Aviation and Investment Act,” and was more commonly known as the FAA reauthorization bill. The bill made its tortuous way through the House and a joint conference committee, and it was finally approved by the Senate in late November. President Bush signed it on December 16.