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.
Airservices, Australia’s air navigation service agency and the Dept of Defence have put out a request for tender for the creation of an aligned Air Traffic Management platform that is intended to harmonise the ATM & CPDLC requirements of both civil and defence movements.
The organisations want the new system to increase co-operation and reduce overlapping, improve communications via CPDLC and to streamline processes and equipment including training and subsequent expertise that can be shared across the workforce.
Airservices CEO, Margaret Staib said, “Through more flexible use of airspace, it will enable better management and prioritisation of an increasingly complex traffic mix. In an environment of projected growth, it will also allow us to connect the Australian aviation industry to deliver world-best industry performance.”
The aim is to bring Australian aviation airspace into a unified state, rather than accepting the limitations of separately managed volumes. A shared and harmonised airspace, including CPDLC and air traffic management solutions will increase safety aspects and operational efficiency across the board in the increasingly complex range of traffic.
Air Marshal Brown, Chief of the Air Force said, “The streamlining of equipment and processes will bring with it shared expertise and facilities, creating economies of scale whilst delivering greater flexibility meeting the needs of airspace users.”