A protest is ongoing by representatives of 15 non-commercial aviation groups against the FAA plans to privatise much of the U.S.’ air traffic control systems.
Plans by the FAA to set up an agency run outside the government have already been proposed and are expected to be debated in Congress in the first quarter of this year.
Despite claims that privatisation in Canada and Europe has proved successful, the aviation community is airing concerns over fee issues and are pleading with lawmakers to carefully assess the benefits of a new system under ‘foreign’ control.
A comparison of the proposed plans to reform the US ATC system has been conducted by the Department of Transportation Offices of the Inspector General (DOT OIG) and a new report has been issued highlighting the impact these are likely to have on the NextGen modernisation program.
A reform of the ATS structure in the US, due to the size and complex nature of its airspace – which is up to 2.5 times the size of that in the UK – could make the implementation of NextGen initiatives difficult.
Comparisons were made with the UK, Canada, Germany and France and the US has more GA aircraft in operation than all four of these countries combined. The creation of an independent ANSP, a part of the reform plans, could cause further, potentially catastrophic delays to the NextGen program.
Other countries, such as Canada, will be using a multi-phase process for the implementation of Controller-Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC), but the US will be looking at a full-scale modernisation, developing new technology and not modifying current products, which other countries and ANSPs will do, forming partnerships and using private companies to meet their requirements.
CPDLC will revolutionise current aviation ATC, centralising these vital processes as the world’s air traffic increases. The NextGen initiative is designed to make ATC more efficient and will open up new tracks to further increase this efficiency.
Congress and the aviation industry in the US are in talks to find a solution.
As a part of a drive to encourage more young people to move into the field of aviation as a career, Los Angeles World Airports have sponsored a free, weeklong Aviation Careers Academy.
Local High School students were able to use a Federal Aviation Administration simulator and direct air traffic as though they were standing in a control tower.
Each day, the students have been on field trips to aviation-based employers, such as the FAA, the Transportation Security Administration and Southwest Airlines in addition to the simulator, in order for them to take a glimpse behind-the-scenes and experience the atmosphere of the aviation workplace.
It is hoped that the Aviation Careers Academy, available to high-school and middle school students, will demonstrate to them that there are a wide range of job opportunities in aviation in addition to pilot or cabin attendant. The future airport police, flight dispatcher, air traffic controller or engineer may be among them, but many young people are not aware that these jobs even exist.
World-wide, there is growing concern amongst the aviation community that in the future there will be a shortage of personnel. Now is the time to get young people interested in a career in aviation. Jobs in aviation are rarely minimum-wage and require further training beyond high school. It is important that young people are made aware of the opportunities and are able to realise what is required in the industry.
SunExpress, a joint venture between Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines plan to completely revamp its entire fleet of Boeing 737 with the Rockwell Collins Link 2000+ starting later this year.
The retrofitting will allow for compliance with Eurocontrol’s new CPDLC mandate that states that by 2015, all flights operating above 28,000 feet in European airspace must have CPDLC capability. The mandate is currently under review for private aircraft, but will move forward in improving air traffic management and capacity throughout Europe under the supervision of Eurocontrol.
Controller-Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC) is clearly the future of cockpit efficiency, reducing the workload for pilots and allowing for greater air traffic management as the skies grow busier and traditional voice radio communications in congested airwaves makes controller-pilot communication more difficult.
CPDLC providers are preparing for the ultimate changeover and many, such as ARINC, offer an advisory service to airlines concerned with refitting or retrofitting aircraft with a range of solutions, enabling them to be CPDLC ready when the time comes.