THE US FEDERAL Aviation Administration has declared in favour of phased introduction of "free-flight" air navigation as recommended by a Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics task-force report.

Monte Belger, the FAA's associate administrator for air-traffic services, says that the aviation agency will respond formally this month to the report's 40 specific recommendations on establishing a framework for implementing free-flight operations over US airspace.

"In general, we agree with the recommendations, the thrust and the idea of free flight. It is our responsibility to provide an ATC [air-traffic-control] system that allows people to fly where and when they want to - as freely as they can. That's what free flight is all about," says Belger.

Under free-flight rules airline operators would be free to set their own direct flightpaths independent of ground control. Air-traffic controllers would intervene only to prevent accidents.

The report's key proposal calls for the FAA to form a free-flight steering committee within six months to establish an implementation strategy and firm schedule. The concept could be available by early in the next century.

Source: Flight International