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).
Next Generation Air Transportation System
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.
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.
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.