The chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives’ transportation committee has expressed concerns to the Department of Transportation’s inspector general about air traffic controller productivity. Since 2000, the number of air traffic controllers has increased slightly, while the number of air traffic operations has declined by 23 percent. The House committee wants the IG to study productivity during a period of reduced air traffic.
Air traffic control
British ATC provider NATS announced last week that a new system that uses time intervals rather than distance to separate arriving and departing aircraft should be in full operation at London Heathrow Airport next spring. The dynamic time-based separations (TBS) system is expected to reduce aircraft delays while increasing an airport’s landing acceptance rate by accounting for wind-speed changes that current distance-based separation ignores.
India’s GPS-Aided Geo Augmented Navigation (Gagan) system, jointly developed by Airports Authority of India (AAI), the Indian Space Research Organization and Raytheon, has been awarded certification for in Required Navigation Performance (RNP) 0.1 operations. Achieved with the help of quasi-U.S. government non-profit MITRE Corporation, the certification makes it the world’s fourth SBAS system certified for operational use.
Thales has signed a contract with Aerothai, Thailand’s air navigation service provider, for a nationwide air traffic management system. Called Thailand modernization CNS/ATM system (TMCS), it is expected to help the country achieve the ICAO–and ASEAN–sponsored Seamless Asian Sky harmonization goals.
Vancouver, Canada-based TrainingPort.net has released an online training course on RVSM for business aviation maintenance personnel. Annual per-person subscriptions to the service provide a collection of 20 to 25 topics depending upon the needs of the company. The typical subscription provides a lesson every week to 10 days throughout the year. The company currently offers 60 topics, ranging from airborne icing to health and safety.
Here at the Singapore Airshow site an interesting phenomenon is taking place invisibly in the sky above our heads. The latest iteration of French manufacturer Thales’ (Booth F23) Long Range Radar and Display System (Lorads III) is now fully operational, marking a new era for air traffic management in Singapore.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) took delivery of the system in June 2013, which is now fully operational following a successful phased deployment program.
Facing the demands of increasing air traffic capacity and operational efficiency, the countries of the Asia Pacific region have launched various programs to adopt recent advances in Air Traffic Management and advances inavionics technology over the past couple of decades. Some countries (notably Australia) have forged ahead, while others are further behind, but it is hoped that recent developments could see closer cooperation for an eventual move to a whole-area solution.
Flight crews headed for Chicago Midway Airport (MDW) should pay special attention to the new Rnav (GPS) Z Runway 22L approach published February 6. The new procedure could increase the potential for conflict with smaller general aviation aircraft traveling along Lake Michigan’s western shoreline. The new RNP/GPS procedure will bring traffic across Chicago’s lakeshore just south of the downtown buildings for a straight-in to 22L.
After 12 long years of nothing promising for harmonizing Southeast Asian trade relations, there was a surprise development in the closing days of 2013 when a trade agreement was finally struck in Bali. Not glamorous, and focused largely on streamlining mundane processes that can impede cargo as it travels across borders, the agreement nevertheless holds considerably promise in terms of the growth of air travel and cargo.
The job of an FAA inspector must be incredibly boring. I imagine them sitting at their desks all day facing down gigantic piles of paper: letters of authorization, certification compliance packages, applications for operating certificates, enforcement actions, ad infinitum. And when the poor beleaguered inspector gets one pile stamped, signed and delivered, an FAA factotum appears with a new stack and thumps it onto whatever clear space remains in the office. Every day, looking up blearily from the stacks, our overworked inspector looks fondly out the window and wonders whether she can take a few minutes away from the office to visit the airport and see if her charges are playing nice or need some friendly nudging.