Boeing is using Paris to push its recently-unveiled ideas for "fundamental change" to the chronically-congested US air traffic control system. At the Boeing International Technology Summit, held on the eve of the show, John Hayhurst, senior vice-president and president of the company's air traffic management division, outlined a vision that will be one of its main themes during show week. Boeing is proposing a string of satellites to provide communications, navigation and surveillance services and help to integrate ATM throughout the US National Airspace System. Once in place, Boeing believes it could be in operational in eight years, the system would have capacity for over 15 years of traffic growth and yield a 45% cut in delays. Boeing says its thinking chimes with the Federal Aviation Administration's 10-year vision of system overhaul. The two sets of plans come at a critical time, as a multitude of lobby groups step up their efforts to encourage government to tackle congestion, which reached record levels last year.


"The future of our core business, building and selling jetliners, is tied to the future of the air traffic system," Hayhurst told the summit. "So we have a vested interest. But more importantly, we believe there's an achievable solution that provides greater safety, capacity and affordability, plus fewer delays." The FAA's 10-year Operational Evolution Plan (OEP) is intended to address the gap between demand and capacity. A programme of specific improvements, it calls for the expansion of area navigation (RNAV), completion of the satellite navigation Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS), introduction of datalink to reduce voice communications between pilots and controllers, and high-altitude vertical separations reduced from 2,000ft to 1,000ft. The plan was developed after exhaustive industry consultation, says the FAA, and aims to increase capacity by 30%. According to Boeing, its concepts "build on and enhance the OEP". Acting deputy administrator Monte Belger said the FAA welcomed longer-term ideas of how to expand the system over the next 25-30 years.

In other news, the FAA has awarded Lockheed Martin a $125 million contract to develop and field the En Route Communications Gateway (ECG) for processing radar data. A total of 21 air route traffic control centres will be equipped with the system, with the first operational in summer 2003.

Source: Flight Daily News