Karen Walker

Senior US Federal Aviation Administration officials are in Dubai this week hoping to garner interest from Gulf aviation officials in a major demonstration programme that aims to improve civil aviation safety and efficiency.

Flight 2000 will be a joint FAA and US industry effort to demonstrate and evaluate advanced communications, navigation, surveillance and air traffic control systems in a real-world environment. The FAA describes the project as a "microcosm and precursor" of free flight which will put that concept into an operational setting. Alaska and Hawaii have been selected as the evaluation sites and the FAA hopes to be able to begin the two- or three-year demonstration programme around 2000.

Although it is a US project, the FAA is keen to get other regions of the world involved because it sees the anticipated safety benefits as a global issue. Yesterday, it staged a conference to provide more information on Flight 2000, attended by senior officials of the Gulf states and sponsored by HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, president of the Dubai Department of Civil Aviation.

Among the FAA delegation in Dubai is George Donohue, associate administrator for research and administration and deputy administrator designate, and Joan Bauerlein, director of international aviation.

"We have got to get the message out to the world that you can no longer have domestic systems; this has to be seen as a global issue," says Bauerlein, who adds that the FAA has been encouraged by the response it has received so far in the Middle East.

Sheikh Ahmed has stressed his understanding of the importance of the project. "For all of us, the future of civil aviation is a critical topic. Here in Dubai, we are planning to increase the scope of our aircraft and to expand Dubai International Airport. We know we must integrate our systems to maximise efficiency and are working with our Gulf neighbours. The future will be here all too soon and it must be viewed from an international perspective."

Source: Flight Daily News