FAA Air Traffic Organization (ATO) officials early last month briefed government and industry representatives on the cost-benefit analysis of nationwide ADS-B implementation, as requested by the agency’s top-level Joint Resources Council (JRC). The ATO is scheduled to submit the analysis to the JRC in early June.
Next Generation Air Transportation System
The Bush Administration rolled out its FY2007 budget plan early last month, calling for $13.75 billion for the FAA–down from the $14.31 billion for this fiscal year–and doling out a big hit on general aviation airports. Although the proposal does not yet call for user fees, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta warned that the agency will have to “relate revenue sources to the services being provided,” such as ATC.
After nearly a year of planning, the FAA is launching a new en route traffic-management tool called airspace flow programs (AFP). The goal of the AFP is to shift away from using ground delays at destination airports not affected by en route weather as a tool to manage traffic demand during severe weather.
The National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO) and the FAA signed a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) in late March on land-use planning around the nation’s airports.
RAA vice president of technical affairs Dave Lotterer has been around long enough to know that government bureaucracy can turn any well intentioned idea into a monument to inefficiency. So when the Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO) established a subgroup dedicated to formulating requirements related to safety management systems (SMSs) for airlines, ATC and government agencies, he knew to pay close attention.
With rare unanimity, aviation experts have agreed over the past few years on one thing: traffic will at least double, and perhaps even triple, by 2025. There has also been clear consensus that, at least in the U.S. and Europe, the current aviation infrastructure won’t be able to accommodate that level of demand, which would lead to daily gridlock at major centers.
In a curious turn of events, the FAA last month found itself launching its nationwide ADS-B program in Washington and boosting the system’s air traffic benefits, while at the same time noting that, at the request of Alaska controllers, ADS-B returns had been removed–at least temporarily–from scopes at the Anchorage ARTCC. The timing of the two situations underscores the tension between the agency and Natca, its most obdurate union.
In response to questions submitted by members of the House subcommittee on space and aeronautics, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said recently that a cost estimate for the next-generation air transportation system (NGATS) is critical since Congress needs to understand what is necessary to fund the ATC system of the future.
In one of the FAA’s more unusual program launches, agency Administrator Marion Blakey publicly announced last month the formal launch of the nationwide ADS-B project, a month before her senior bureaucrats were due to decide whether to adopt the system, and six weeks after other top-ranking officials had decreed the removal of ADS-B aircraft targets from controllers’ radar scopes at Anchorage Center.
FAA Administrator Marion Blakey last month reiterated the agency’s position that automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) is the “backbone” of the next-generation air traffic management system.