If there’s one thing that FAA COO Russell Chew has going for him as he faces $8.3 billion in budget losses by 2009, it’s that he has lots of people on the sidelines giving him advice.
Next Generation Air Transportation System
While most speakers discussed current training issues and new learning concepts at the Air Traffic Control Association’s recent “ATC Training for the Future” conference, one presenter proposed that tomorrow’s air traffic controllers should possess, at minimum, a bachelor of science degree with emphasis on mathematics, computer science, engineering, probability theory and interpersonal psychology from an accredited university.
The FAA is more than two years behind schedule for commissioning equipment designed to improve runway surveillance to reduce incursions. Congress wants to know why and what can be done about it and asked the DOT Inspector General to launch an audit into the matter. While the FAA has procured 36 out of 38 Airport Surface Detection Equipment-Model X (ASDE-X) systems, it has commissioned only three for operational use.
There are more than 35,000 people living and working offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, supported by nearly 650 helicopters flying as many as 9,000 flights each day. HAI worries about limited radio contact with air traffic controllers below 5,000 feet in areas where the minimum en route altitude is 1,500 feet. Also of concern is a lack of access to current weather data, which prevents IFR operations to several major Gulf oil platforms.
The Next Generation Air Transportation System (NGATS) Institute has named Stephen Fisher its executive director. A former Marine Corps helicopter pilot, he will oversee daily operations at the institute.
The NGATS Institute is an industry partnership supporting the Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO) in developing and implementing NGATS, a technologically advanced ATC system for the future.
At the Farnborough Air Show this summer, FAA Administrator Marion Blakey and European Commission (EC) vice president Jacques Barrot signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance cooperation toward developing compatible, “seamless” air traffic management systems. The agreement formalizes previously informal exchanges between U.S.
The FAA announced in August that it expects to award its ADS-B ground station contract (estimated to be for up to 500 ground stations) next July. The agency will use a “performance-based” contracting approach for the project, which will reportedly cost around $2 billion over its lifetime.
The FAA has finished deploying at all 20 en route centers a new communications gateway that processes radar and flight data and eliminates problems that bedeviled the previous system. Called en route communications gateway (ECG), it eliminates the possibility of a system-wide outage by removing the single point of failure that existed in what the FAA called the peripheral adapter module replacement item (PAMRI).
With some air traffic controllers already earning more than $200,000 annually, FAA Administrator Marion Blakey is digging in her heels during the agency’s current round of negotiations with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA).
The Small Airplane Transportation System (SATS) demonstration came to what most consider a successful conclusion last summer with demonstration flights and exhibits in Danville, Va., but where the technology goes from here is anybody’s guess.