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A New Air Traffic Control System Is Possible: Will The Congress Step Up And Make It Happen?

ArmchairPolitiicianInfrastructure, June 7, 2017, by Brad Peery,, www.ArmchairPolitician.US

The Trump infrastructure plan began to unfold with a proposal to overhaul our nation’s air traffic control system. The system includes 300 air traffic control systems and about 30,000 employees. The air traffic control system is seriously antiquated, and many attempts have been unsuccessful in trying to upgrade it.

The good part of the system is that it has been very good from a safety standpoint. There are about 50,000 flights per day. There hasn’t been a fatal crash by a U.S. airline in eight years. However there have been many near misses. Canada has successfully deployed a modern air traffic control system that can become a model or template for an upgraded U.S. system. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would continue to provide safety oversight

The Trump plan for an upgraded U.S. system is very interesting. The existing system would be transferred from the FAA to a non-profit company. The system would be funded by user fees. A concern in congress is that the airlines will dominate the operation of the system. This concern has been met by setting up a 13-member board of directors that only includes two seats for the airlines. Another concern is that such a system would not be usable by smaller airports. It would seem that any airport that today has an FAA system should be capable of being upgraded. There are many smaller airports that do not have an FAA system, and perhaps some of them could be added to a much more efficient system using modern technology.

President Trump said the a new air traffic control system would increase safety and reduce wait times. A new system would likely be based upon a modern GPS system instead of the existing 1945 vintage radar system. Besides the improved accuracy of such a GPS-based system, other modern benefits include many ways of actually tracking the planes, directing them on their routes, and particularly planning and directing their landings.

ArmchairPolitician.US Opinion
The challenge in upgrading our existing antiquated air traffic control has two components. The first is the design of the system, which should advance more quickly because of a successful Canadian system. The second challenge is to transition from the existing system to a new system. This will probably require running dual systems, with airports being transferred to the new system one at a time. The existing air traffic control system is seriously outdated, and hopefully a government, that is seriously inadequate at running businesses, will begin to develop some new effective models for developing public operations.

ArmchairPolitiicianInfrastructure, June 3, 2017, by Brad Peery,, www.ArmchairPolitician.US
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