Safer Airspace

Pilot programs in Alaska and Ohio to evaluate the next generation air traffic control system that the FAA is developing together with DOD are showing “significant results,” Secretary of the Air Force Michael Wynne said May 22. In a speech to the Aero Club of Washington, D.C., Wynne said the FAA, for example, credits the automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast system, the backbone of the next-gen capability, with reducing general aviation accidents by 40 percent in areas of Alaska with no radars. ADS-B is a GPS-based means of providing both pilots and air traffic controllers with more accurate location data. The new air traffic control system will also make it easier for commercial aircraft to access normally restricted military airspace to free up congested air routes at times when the military does not require the airspace, Wynne said. “The key to striking this balance is building transparent information systems that support knowledge-enabled decisions,” he said. “The key is also to add time as a dimension in the planning—i.e., working the release of airspace not in blocks, but dynamic.” Already the Air Force is evaluating initiatives to enhance East Coast airspace access, especially during holiday periods, he said. During this past Memorial Day weekend, commercial airliners had access to military airspace along the Atlantic Coast.