As the crow flies, the distance between Baltimore and Newark is only about 160 mi. But during the height of thunderstorm season, when lines of towering cumulus march eastward–often erupting into wide, impenetrable walls of rain, turbulence and lightning–the distance can easily double, while travel times can triple.
Controller Pilot Data Link Communications
In one of her first speeches as FAA Administrator, Marion Blakey promised that her five-year term will be driven by data and hard numbers, be consistent across all FAA regions and offices and emphasize the agency’s role in international aviation.
Traditionally, Boeing and Airbus have used the Paris and Farnborough airshows to announce multimillion-dollar sales contracts, in the hope of one-upping the opposition. But at Farnborough this year–the first big post-September 11 air show–neither company had major announcements to make.
National Air Traffic Controllers Association (Natca) president Patrick Forrey raised more than a few eyebrows in a recent speech at the Washington Aero Club, calling on Congress to order an immediate, comprehensive evaluation of the NextGen ATC system before any more funds are expended.
At a recent International Air Transport Association (IATA) conference on global navigation and oceanic operations, IBAC director general Donald Spruston outlined worldwide corporate activities to a primarily airline-oriented audience. He stressed his organization’s continuing need to be involved in the development of oceanic standards and procedures and in the implementation and planning process.
At the ICAO Assembly in Montreal–where all the world’s aviation representatives gathered last month to review outstanding issues–there was general agreement that the lack of uniform international rules for fractional operations should be resolved.
“Aviation is emerging from the most difficult period in its history to date. This recovery is still fragile. It is under pressure from fuel costs, uncertain stability in regions, military conflicts, international terrorism and changes in the business model by low-cost carriers.
Aircraft operators have been forced to add new technology to meet updated requirements since the 1950s, but nothing ever seems to come off aircraft, one air traffic expert noted recently.
The FAA later this year will begin asking avionics makers to submit bids for competitive contracts to produce prototype radio interface units (RIU) and ground network interface units (GNIU) for demonstrations of the next-generation air/ground communications (Nexcom) program. FAA’s Nexcom program office is overseeing the transition to the future digital voice/data VHF radios, paving the way for controller-pilot datalink communications (CPDLC).
Citing budget constraints, senior FAA management has apparently postponed the planned expansion of controller/pilot data link communications (CPDLC) trials beyond the present activity at the Miami ARTCC, AIN has learned. Industry sources report that the decision was based on the high costs of controller manpower.