NASA and the US National Consortium for Aviation Mobility (NCAM) have picked Danville Regional Airport in Virginia for an operational demonstration of the small aircraft transport system (SATS). The demonstration, planned for mid-2005, is the culmination of the five-year SATS research project to develop technologies enabling greater use of small aircraft and airports for public transport.

The NCAM is a public/private partnership formed to support the SATS programme. Partners include SATS laboratories formed by participating US states and the industry alliance originally formed to support NASA's Advanced General Aviation Experiments programme, which developed many of the technologies to be applied in the SATS effort. NASA and NCAM are developing airborne systems, cockpit displays and operating procedures to enable four- to 10-passenger aircraft to operate into underused rural and suburban airports.

SATS focuses on developing four operating capabilities enabling greater public-transport use of small aircraft and airports: separation and sequencing of aircraft to allow high-volume operations at airports without terminal radar or control tower; safer low-visibility take-off and landing operations at minimally equipped airports; improved single-pilot safety, accuracy and ease of use; and seamless integration of large numbers of small aircraft into the US airspace system.

Source: Flight International