NASA is to demonstrate technology enabling the use of small aircraft and small airports to relieve highway and airway congestion.

The programme will be a joint venture with the public/private National Consortium of Aviation Mobility (NCAM) in response to criticism of the agency's Small Aircraft Transportation System (SATS). A US National Research Council committee says the SATS concept of small aircraft flying between small airports is impractical.

NCAM has over 130 members, including aviation authorities, airport operators, aircraft/avionics manufacturers, universities and service suppliers. It will help finance a proof-of-concept demonstration in 2005 with NASA, the US Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration. Demonstrations will begin in 2003 with technology allowing higher-volume operations at non-tower airports. Flight-tests of display technologies enabling lower approach minima at airports without instrument landing systems will follow in mid-2003.

Source: Flight International