New en route air traffic control radar for the Nigerian flight information region should be operational by April 12, according to the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA). A NAMA spokesman said a considerable number of air traffic controllers have already been trained in preparation for the new Lagos and Kano sectors opening for live traffic. The implementation of new voice communications has also been completed at 13 airports in Nigeria.
Air Traffic Organization
On Friday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood laid out the likely consequences to his department and the FAA of possible automatic federal budget cuts, known as sequestration, that are scheduled to start March 1. In the absence of a revised budget deal between the Obama Administration and Congress, he said the FAA is planning $600 million in cuts through the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends September 30.
A new Reason Foundation study argues that U.S. passenger airports could support themselves and fund capacity improvements with user fees and long-term financing, eliminating the need for government grants from the Airport Improvement Program (AIP). The study by the libertarian research organization also proposes spinning off the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization (ATO) into a separate federal entity that charges users for ATC services.
NextGen is such a vast project, with so many interdependencies–where even if System A is complete and ready to go, it needs Systems B and C before it can be placed into service, and they now won’t be ready for another year or two–that predicting completion dates is a risky business. And predicting the final costs of uncompleted items could be even chancier.
A program that lets air traffic controllers voluntarily report safety concerns without fear of reprisals has come under criticism from the Transportation Department’s inspector general, who told Congress that “significant improvement” is needed to find the root causes of safety risks.
The FAA announced a collaborative public-private NextGen effort at Florida’s major airports late last week that will increase safety and efficiency while reducing aircraft emissions. Dubbed NextGen metroplex, the initiative will improve the flow of air traffic into and out of airports in the Miami, Orlando and Tampa metropolitan areas. Similar metroplex projects are under way or planned in numerous metropolitan areas across the U.S., the FAA added.
The FAA’s NextGen air traffic control modernization program will require a consensus among all aviation segments to succeed, NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen said yesterday at a House aviation subcommittee hearing on the progress of NextGen initiatives. Bolen was invited to appear before the subcommittee to represent RTCA, an organization charged with providing consensus-based recommendations to the FAA for NextGen. He is a former RTCA chair and currently serves as its vice chair.
FAA Acting Administrator Michael Huerta offered a glimpse into the agency’s plans for integrating unmanned aerial vehicles into U.S. domestic airspace during the August 7 Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International in Las Vegas, but details about precisely how the FAA plans to make the integration of UAVs into domestic airspace work left some skeptics scratching their heads.
Building on a study called “General Aviation Airports: A National Asset,” the FAA said it will use the information to give the general public a better understanding of GA airports in the community and within the national air transportation system, and how they serve the public interest.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a report on July 19 outlining additional steps necessary to make the FAA’s Air Traffic Safety Action Program (ATSAP) more effective at identifying safety risks.