Air Traffic Control Newsletter #151

Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter

Air Traffic Control Newsletter #151

In this issue:

Should Multilateration Replace Secondary Radar?

Earlier this month, Aviation Daily reported that “FAA [is] no longer expected to retire radars.” In a talk at a Royal Aeronautical Society event in Washington, Gerald Dillingham of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said that the FAA now concurs with the Defense Department that radars are needed as a backup. As a result, he said, “A lot of the money that was thought to be saved [by NextGen] will not be saved.” Another large fraction of promised NexGen cost savings is now down the drain.

For context on this subject, there are two basic types of radar for surveillance. Primary radar detects all airborne and ground targets by bouncing radar signals off them. The newer kind, secondary radar, interrogates the transponder that all aircraft flying in controlled airspace must have. That provides the identity of the aircraft and certain other information useful to air traffic control. The original NextGen concept of operations projected very large cost savings, because ADS-B surveillance would replace secondary radars and would also permit most or all legacy ground-based navigation aids to be taken out of service. The savings would come from not having to replace hundreds of aging radars, VORs, ILSs, etc. as well as from eliminating their ongoing maintenance costs.

Primary radars were always going to be retained, partly due to national security concerns, since enemy aircraft and planes commandeered by terrorists would not broadcast transponder or ADS-B signals. (Some funding from DOD and DHS is provided for this joint surveillance service.) And because ADS-B and some other NextGen technologies rely on GPS, the lack of a national GPS backup system had led to FAA plans to retain the majority of ground-based VOR and DME navaids. But for FAA to also be keeping its secondary radars is a new and disturbing change—and one that should be rethought.

That’s because there is a non-GPS alternative to secondary radars that both FAA and a number of other ANSPs have been implementing in recent years. It’s called wide-area multilateration (WAM). A WAM system consists of a network of inexpensive ground receivers that pick up transponder (or ADS-B) signals. An algorithm based on differences in arrival time of the signals at each receiver provides precise locational information, with much faster update rate than secondary radar. Moreover, WAM is not subject to the various kinds of interference that radar signals are subject to, especially in urban areas. It requires no new equipment on aircraft. And it is totally independent of GPS, thereby providing a back-up to ADS-B surveillance in the event of GPS outage or interference.

In a two-part article in The Journal of Air Traffic Control in 2009, Rick Castaldo (then of U.S. DOT) and co-authors reviewed the development and certification of local and then wide-area multilateration in the United States. Its first major use was as part of the ASDE-X airport surface surveillance system now operational at 35 airports. It was later deployed in the Gulf of Mexico in a large-scale demonstration project, and then certificated to provide much-improved surveillance for a set of small airports in the mountain ski area of Colorado. More recently, as explained in “Multilateration and the NFL” ( The Journal of Air Traffic Control, Fall 2017), a WAM system is being installed to supplement secondary radar feeding the Southern California TRACON, a region notorious for what the authors politely call “radio frequency challenges” to radar. The forcing function in this case is the planned development of a major new football stadium just east of LAX that could create false targets for some of the TRACON’s eight ASR-9 secondary radars. Those radars have experienced problems for over 20 years because of reflections and poor siting criteria in a congested area.

In the previously mentioned 2009 articles, the authors made two predictions. First, that FAA would never buy another secondary radar system. Second, that multilateration, given seasoned FAA leadership, would become the premier secondary surveillance method throughout the United States. They argued that WAM is faster, more accurate, and less costly both to acquire and to maintain than secondary radars. And it provides a non-GPS backup for ADS-B, which undercuts the FAA’s rationale for keeping secondary radars for that purpose.

Keeping secondary radars is not the decision being made by a number of other ANSPs.

  • AustroControl was the first ANSP to implement a nationwide WAM system, initially to complement but ultimately to replace secondary radars. It became fully operational in 2014.
  • Naviar in Denmark in 2014 began rolling out a 25-site WAM system across the country; it was completed in late 2017.
  • Norway’s Avinor is also implementing nationwide WAM, to replace existing secondary radars as they reach the end of their service lives.
  • Airways New Zealand is under way on a complete revamp of its air traffic management system via a program called New Southern Sky. The program is considering the replacement of most or all secondary radars with WAM.

FAA appears to be turning its back on a technology that is a more cost-effective alternative to secondary radars, which are aging and will need to be replaced in the near future. Its current replacement plan is called Spectrum Efficient National Surveillance Radar (SENSR). The idea is to develop a single new kind of radar that will replace over 500 primary, secondary, and weather radars. This might someday work, but there is a sorry history of grandiose government projects that sought to combine numerous requirements into a single new system—and ended up with a costly kludge that did none of the functions very well. Recall the DoD’s notorious TFX/F-111 fighter plane in the 1960s, NASA’s Space Shuttle, and the current Joint Strike Fighter (F-35). All three were delivered many years late, way over budget, and with sub-standard performance in many respects.

By contrast, WAM systems are available essentially off the shelf from world-class firms, including Comsoft, ERA, and Saab. Perhaps that is the problem. The drawbacks of this approach would be (1) no decade-long cost-plus development program, and (2) no major contract for an existing radar supplier. It’s hard to imagine this kind of decision being made by the stakeholder board of a self-supporting ANSP, interested in getting best value for the money spent.

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Misleading Numbers on Tax Reduction Due to ATC Corporatization

Last year when the Office of Management & Budget (OMB) released its FY 2018 budget numbers, it factored in passage of an FAA reauthorization bill that included corporatization of the Air Traffic Organization. Allowing for the specified several-year transition period, its 10-year budget projection showed a $10 billion per year cost reduction at FAA, due to shifting the ATO out of government and making it self-supporting. But it also projected the elimination of all aviation excise taxes—a nonsensical assumption that would leave the remaining FAA functions—the $3.4 billion Airport Improvement Program and all of FAA’s regulatory functions (another $2 billion)—dependent on the shrinking general fund.

Unfortunately, OMB’s just-released FY 2019 budget makes the same mistake. And needless to say, opponents of FAA are using those numbers to scare the small-airports community about loss of AIP grants and to say this would be a huge windfall tax saving for the airline industry. Talk about an Administration that says it supports ATC corporatization shooting itself in the foot!

In the House of Representatives, there is a draft tax title that accompanies the FAA reauthorization bill (AIRR Act) that includes ATC corporatization. While I have not yet seen it, I’m told that, as a placeholder, it simply cuts all existing aviation taxes by 80% after Sept. 20, 2020, leaving all of them in place. That’s almost as bad. Supporters of corporatization need to do some clear thinking about how best to pay for the non-ATC functions of FAA once the ATO is divested and made self-supporting from fees charged for its services.

In the June 2017 issue of this newsletter, I provided a breakdown of the FY 2016 FAA expenditures and revenues. Those numbers are good enough to use for a first exercise. The total FAA budget was $16.55 billion, of which $11.2 billion (68%) covered the ATO’s capital and operating costs. Total aviation excise tax revenue that year was $14.405 billion, which breaks down as follows:

Domestic passengers (ticket tax + segment fee)

$9.91B

68.8%

International passenger taxes

3.40B

23.6%

Airline fuel & cargo taxes

.88B

6.1%

GA fuel taxes

.22B

1.5%

Totals:

$14.405B

100.0%

Since general aviation (GA), including business jets, is exempted from paying any ATC fees, and its current fuel taxes support both ATC and AIP, the GA fuel taxes should be increased to generate at least $500 million per year, compared with the $217 million they paid in FY 2016. Small airports used mostly by GA get about half of all AIP funding, so it’s only fair that GA pay for a non-trivial share of this $3.4 billion program. And airlines should pay for the other $3 billion. The least cumbersome way for airlines to pay for that is probably via an increase in the relatively modest fuel tax airlines pay.

Safety regulation by the federal government is almost always paid for out of the general fund, so the $2 billion required for the FAA’s regulatory and miscellaneous functions should continue to come from that source.

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Another Chapter in the Endless CARTS/STARS Saga

On January 31, 2018, the DOT Office of Inspector General (OIG) released its latest report on the never-ending FAA effort to upgrade the basic hardware/software system used in the air traffic control system’s 160 TRACONs. Report No. AV2018020 makes for depressing reading, if you have been following this far-over-budget, many-years-late effort that began 22 years ago, in 1996.

The original idea was for a contractor to design, build, and install a Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS) in every TRACON. It hasn’t turned out so well. The initial procurement, to put STARS into 52 TRACONs, cost so much more than planned, and was so late becoming operational, that FAA decided it needed an “interim” solution for the rest of the TRACONs. A different contractor developed a set of upgrades for those TRACONs that was called the Common Automated Radar Terminal System (CARTS). That system proved to be quite functional.

When all the original STARS and CARTS installations were nearing completion, FAA had to decide how to proceed with modernizing the system in all the remaining TRACONs, so that they would all end up with the same automation system. As a 2013 OIG report explained, FAA started out planning a competitive procurement—either replace CARTS with STARS at the remaining facilities or replace STARS with CARTS. Either way would achieve the goal, but when FAA compared the costs, it decided that STARS would cost less. The OIG report found that this cost comparison was flawed, which suggests that a competitive procurement should have gone forward. Instead, FAA opted for a sole-source procurement with the incumbent STARS contractor.

The new OIG report tells the sad tale of what’s happened with that. The first phase of the new contract was to implement STARS at the 11 largest TRACONS at a cost of $438 million. Well, all 11 systems are now installed, but because some 160 “requirements gaps” between CARTS and STARS have been found and worked on, the cost has increased to $529 million. The report found two reasons for the increase: FAA underestimated the complexity of replacing CARTS with STARS, and it did not take into account the many changes that had been made to CARTS over the 10 years it had been in operation. FAA now estimates it will need yet another $14 million for “post-installation enhancements” at the 11 large TRACONs. The result is that while STARS is operational at the 11 TRACONs, “it does not yet fully support” all the capabilities is supposed to deliver.

As for converting from CARTS to STARS at the remaining 97 TRACONs, it’s anyone’s guess how much more that will cost than the official $463 million estimate. OIG found that “FAA has not documented its validation and prioritization decisions for new STARS requirements,” nor has it completed merging the different software baselines at the 11 TRACONS to reduce software maintenance, duplication, and installation risks. So the same problems could well occur during installation of STARS at all the other TRACONs. Last but not least, the electrical connections for STARS at the 11 sites are installed in a way that makes them vulnerable to a single-point failure.

And there’s even worse when you get to page 14 of the report. After all this cost, time, and effort, STARS cannot support certain key NextGen capabilities, such as terminal sequencing and spacing, interval management applications, and DataComm in terminal airspace. And that means—wait for it—”Further NextGen capabilities will require a new phase of terminal automation.” The saga continues . . . .

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Would ATC Corporatization “Risk National Security”?

The newest canard aimed at plans to convert the Air Traffic Organization into a self-funded ANSP like those of other developed nations is that this would somehow threaten national security. Articles along these lines have appeared in Federal Times, the Washington Times, the FAA Managers’ Association magazine, and in op-eds in small-town newspapers. In the first three cases, the authors are retired military men, which suggests they might know what they are talking about—but when you read further, you can see they are peddling the standard AOPA/NBAA propaganda line, for whatever reason.

Col. Keith Zuegel (Ret.) writes in Federal Times that Congress is trying to “dismantle the ATC structure and governance,” giving in to special interests that are seek to “seize control of our air traffic system and align it with their priorities.” He claims that the Canadian system (Nav Canada) “costs more per mile of travel than the U.S. system” (false) and “has increased fees to remain solvent,” (false) and that “the U.K. system required a large government bailout” (false). Although the piece is headlined, “Congress Risks National Security and U.S. Aviation,” it devotes only four sentences to that subject, while reciting the whole AOPA/NBAA anti-corporatization catechism. He even claims that the AIRR Act will make “pilot certificates” more expensive, a function that will remain with the FAA. Don’t these people even read the bill?

A former Army infantry officer, Pancho Kinney, begins his Washington Times piece by asserting that the bill would “relieve the Federal Aviation Administration of its oversight of our nation’s air traffic control operations,” ignoring the ongoing safety regulatory oversight by FAA and other oversight by the Secretary of Transportation. Most of his op-ed does discuss the existing relationship between DOD and FAA in sharing U.S. airspace. But he seems oblivious to the AIRR Act’s explicit language to keep in place all current relationships between DOD and civilian air traffic control. As I have written in previous newsletter articles, civil/military ATC cooperation is standard practice everywhere, including in all 60 countries that have separated the ATC function from their aviation safety regulator. He and the others also ignore the letter last spring from DOD Secretary Mattis to Sen. John McCain stating that the Pentagon is comfortable with ATC reform as currently proposed.

The most bizarre attack on corporatization as a national security issue appears in the January/February 2018 issue of FAAMA’s Managing the Skies. It consists of extracts from an address by retired Army officer Rep. Steve Russell (R, OK) before FAAMA’s 2017 convention. He begins by asking what would have happened on Sept. 11, 2001, if the decision on grounding all planes over the United States had had to be put before a 13-member ATC corporation board before any action could be taken. Russell completely ignores both the clear language of the AIRR Act and established civil/military coordination worldwide via this and other fantasies.

And in the following Q&A, Russell again demonstrates a thorough lack of familiarity with ATC corporatization in general and the specifics of what is proposed in this country. Here are a few samples:

  • “giving up our national airspace to a private corporation” (false: airspace remains public);
  • “an organization with no Title 1 oversight, but they still want our money” (false: there would be zero tax money going to this self-supporting ANSP); and,
  • “every time a plane takes off and lands, it’s going to be charged a fee” (false: GA and business jets are exempted by law from any ATC fees or charges).

I have written many times that any of us who favor ATC reform would welcome serious, fact-based debate on the merits of corporatization. But the array of false and misleading statements being propagated by people who may have sincere concerns but clearly don’t know what they are talking about is not a debate on the merits.

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FAA’s Troubled ADS-B Equipage Mandate

As we’ve known for about a decade now, all aircraft flying in controlled domestic airspace must be equipped with ADS-B/Out by January 2, 2020. In a session at the Air Traffic Control Association’s annual conference last fall, it became clear that a large fraction of the total U.S. aircraft fleet will fail to meet this deadline.

There is a widespread belief in the general aviation community that the airlines have received a five-year exemption from the 2020 deadline. That is not true. They are required to have a functioning ADS-B/Out system installed and operational by the original date, but they have received five more years to feed it via a more-precise GPS box. For reasons known only to itself, FAA has adopted a more stringent standard than Australia, Canada and Europe. Those countries have adopted RTCA’s DO-260A specification, while FAA has instead mandated DO-260B, with its stricter navigation accuracy and integrity performance standards. Airbus and Boeing have been delivering new airliners worldwide compliant with DO-260A, but U.S. avionics suppliers are still developing boxes that meet DO-260B. So Exemption 12555 won by A4A on behalf of U.S. airlines gives them until 2025 to install DO-260B-compliant GPS boxes. At the ATCA conference, then-Deputy Administrator Dan Elwell told attendees that at the October 4th meeting of the NextGen Advisory Council, all the airline representatives said they would meet the 2020 deadline.

There are still very real questions regarding the fraction of the general aviation (GA) fleet that will be equipped by the deadline. FAA figures from Dec. 1, 2017 show that 1,542 airliners (out of roughly 7,000) had been equipped (22%). Nobody knows how many GA aircraft are actually required to equip, since not all of those with transponders opt to fly in controlled airspace. But working backward from FAA’s estimate of the total transpondered fleet of 160,000 would mean that about 140,00 GA planes need to equip by the first of January in 2020. As of Dec. 1, 2017, FAA figures show that about 25% of that number have done so. Whether there is enough time for certified facilities to install ADS-B in that volume of planes is doubtful. Another problem is that a non-trivial fraction of those installations are being done incorrectly. At one point in 2016, said FAA’s James Marks at last fall’s Avionics for NextGen conference, the number of planes with ADS-B that was non-performing was greater than the number with equipment operating correctly.

An even worse problem is equipage for the military aviation fleet. It is widely acknowledged that DOD will fail to meet the 2020 equipage deadline. Aviation Week reported in its February 12-25, 2018 issue that “as of late last year, the Pentagon was nowhere near meeting the requirement.” It is negotiating an agreement with FAA, basically to gain exemptions for certain types of aircraft or missions, and a delayed deadline for others. One DOD concern is that ADS-B data are not encrypted; they can be received by anyone with an ADS-B receiver and reported to the world. While this aids data services such as FlightAware, the Air Force and the Department of Homeland Security do not want certain missions being tracked and reported to civilians in real time. DOD is also concerned about jamming and spoofing of ADS-B data.

The problem of coordination between aircraft operators and the ATC provider (FAA’s Air Traffic Organization) has plagued FAA from the start. The agency contracted to have the network of 634 ADS-B ground stations built and operated far in advance of the equipage due date. Those ground stations were declared operational in April 2014—more than six and a half years before the equipage deadline. Between the contract award in 2007 and the 2014 completion date, the world of ADS-B was significantly altered by the start-up of space-based ADS-B provider Aireon, whose global constellation is on track to be operational by the end of this year. This raises the question of whether FAA made a premature decision to commit $4.4 billion to building and operating the ground-station network.

Even more troubling is what airspace users can expect from the new system. In the opinion of a former senior FAA official, “Even if miraculously every operator in controlled airspace were equipped on New Year’s Day of 2020, the industry and FAA would have little to show for it.” He went on to explain that FAA is largely unprepared to implement approach, departure, and en-route procedures that take advantage of the more-precise real-time location information provided via ADS-B surveillance. The most-touted benefits of ADS-B—greater situational awareness in the cockpit, dense ground-to-air data streams, and steps toward autonomous separation—are all capabilities of ADS-B/In, and FAA is still as much as a decade away from having even final specifications for ADS-B/In. And as noted in a previous article, much of the benefit/cost case for ADS-B was premised on a substantial reduction in secondary radars, which is no longer FAA policy.

Stakeholder-governed Nav Canada has taken a more cautious approach to ADS-B. It has not thus far asked Transport Canada for an equipage mandate. Instead, it has installed ADS-B ground stations only to serve Hudson’s Bay and other far-northern airspace for polar routes where radar did not exist, and also across the North Atlantic in cooperation with neighboring ANSPs. Since ADS-B in those portions of airspace would permit radar-like separation (replacing very approximate “procedural separation”), there was a strong incentive for aircraft operators to equip with ADS-B to obtain better service. This is an example of the policy of best-equipped/best-served, and it has spurred extensive equipage with both ADS-B and controller-pilot data link communications (CPDLC) by airlines and business jets flying in those airspaces. Only now that space-based ADS-B is nearing operational status has Nav Canada launched a study to assess (1) how space-based ADS-B could be used to enhance surveillance in domestic airspace, and (2) the potential benefits of an ADS-B/Out equipage mandate. This strikes me as a more customer-friendly approach to the subject than the policy FAA has pursued.

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News Notes

FAA Budget Cuts in FY 2019 Budget . The FY 2019 budget that FAA is allowed (by OMB) to ask for is $16.1 billion, down 1.9% from FY 2017 (the last budget officially approved for the agency). Cuts include 1% in the Operations budget, 1.7% less for aviation safety regulation, 8% less for general facilities and equipment, and 11% less for NextGen. Memo to those claiming FAA is fully funded and doesn’t need reform: Is this what you meant?

Aireon Test Flights with FAA and Nav Canada . As part of continued operational testing of its space-based ADS-B system, Aireon has worked with FAA and Nav Canada, using the initial satellite constellation to track equipped aircraft. In December, an FAA “flying laboratory” jet based at the Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City flew into North Atlantic airspace, broadcasting its ADS-B signals which were relayed via satellite to FAA control centers. Nav Canada continues using a Bombardier jet, which in December flew a 5-hour mission in Edmonton airspace, with one-third of the eventual 66-satellite constellation actively receiving data from the plane and relaying it to Nav Canada facilities. During these flight tests, the Aireon payloads received, decoded, and delivered over 101,000 ADS-B messages. Each month, the initial 30 payloads are receiving over 6 billion position messages from ADS-B-equipped aircraft worldwide.

Next Iridium Launch Set for March 20th . Iridium Communications has announced that the fifth launch for its new Iridium NEXT satellite constellation will take place in mid-March, like previous launches from Vandenberg AFB on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. With 10 more of the satellites in orbit, full operation of the 66-satellite system is on track for late 2018, enabling Aireon’s space-based ADS-B service to begin commercial operations by year-end.

Ireland Splitting ANSP from Safety Regulator . A government objective for 2018, confirmed by Transport Minister Shane Ross, is to remove the air safety regulation function from the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), leaving the latter as Ireland’s air navigation service provider (ANSP). The regulatory function would be shifted to the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR). This change will make Irish policy and practice consistent with the 2001 policy set forth by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) that aviation safety regulation be organizationally separate from the provision of air traffic services (a change the United States has yet to make).

Paris ATC System to be Upgraded by Saab Consortium . DSNA, the French ANSP, has announced the award of a contract to Saab and CS Communications & Systems to upgrade the air traffic management system used in the control towers at Charles de Gaulle, Le Bourget, and Orly Airports, as well as the regional approach control centers. Saab will implement its Integrated Traffic Control Suite in these facilities.

London Luton Airport Selects NATS as Control Tower Operator . Incumbent operator NATS bested competitors for a five-year contract to continue operating the control tower at London Luton Airport. NATS installed a new system with electronic flight strips in 2015 and is commissioning a new voice communications system. Passenger numbers at LLA have doubled over the past three years to 15.8 million in 2017.

Italy’s ENAV Developing Strategy with IATA . A new Italian National Airspace Strategy will be jointly developed by the country’s ANSP, ENAV, and the International Air Transport Association. ENAV CEO Roberta Neri says the strategy will be a collaborative effort with all aviation stakeholders, focusing on modernization and expansion of already-implemented free-route airspace in Italy. Italy’s airspace safety regulator, ENAC, has endorsed the initiative.

Testing Complete on First German Remote Tower Center . The ANSP of Germany, DFS, has completed onsite testing of the Frequentis remote tower facilities installed at Saarbücken Airport. Control tower operations will take place in the new Remote Tower Center in Leipzig, 250 miles away. DFS and Frequentis began work on the remote tower project in 2015. Once control of Saarbücken is in operation from the Leipzig RTC, by the end of 2018, work will begin to install remote tower facilities at two additional airports, Erfurt and Dresden.

Long-range Traffic Flow Management Trials Beginning . Three ANSPs have signed an agreement to work together on long-range traffic flow management, to shorten en-route flight tracks and smooth out arrivals at destination airports. The three are Airways New Zealand, Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, and NATS of the UK. In December and January, the ANSPs conducted trials involving 53 flights to Changi Airport in Singapore—from Auckland, Christchurch, and London Heathrow. Controllers worked with aircraft in flight to adjust their speeds so as to better manage their arrival times. One of the aims is to reduce or eliminate planes having to circle in holding stacks before being able to land.

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Quotable Quotes

“Having been a mid-level participant in several industry teams bidding on major FAA programs, it was usually the teams’ understanding that one never offered every benefit in one’s written proposal. Once the contract was signed, and the work was well under way, the winner could then offer previously unspecified benefits—for additional cost, of course. The sad reason for such moves was that FAA’s electronic systems engineers were frequently unable to keep up with the levels of technology advancement that bidders were offering in their proposals. I happened to know certain individuals on the FAA technical side at that time, and, from their comments, it was clear that many of the bidders’ claims were taken on faith. . . . Recent conversations with FAA technical people suggest that a significant knowledge gap continues to exist, often with promising new FAA people being quickly identified by private industry and lured away to better positions.”
—Email to Robert Poole from retired avionics engineer, name withheld by request

“The [NBAA] contention that airlines would own the sky is a powerful political argument, because the public imagines the traffic director of the heavens as a United gate agent. But the major airlines would nominate only one seat on a 13-member board . . . down from four in the previous proposal. Also on the board are members nominated by cargo airlines, regional airlines, airports, business jets, unions, and others, none of whom will be easily re-accommodated to whatever the major airline agenda is. Board members cannot be employed or paid by any aviation business or group during their tenure. The bill also exempts general aviation from paying any air-traffic user fees. This includes business jets. . . . If business jets try to tank the bill no matter the details, then Republicans ought to subject them to fees, same as commercial flights. Air travel is becoming less pleasant, and according to one analysis the average time from push back to arrival is increasing on many routes—more than 80 minutes from DC to New York LaGuardia, up from 67 minutes in 1990. Apparently that hasn’t been an issue for the folks flying in and out of Teterboro.”
—Editorial Board, “Private Jet-Setters Against Better Air Travel,” The Wall Street Journal, February 15, 2018

“For the Federal Aviation Administration, building on last year’s budget includes the proposal to reform or privatize the Air Traffic Organization (ATO). . . . As we’ve discussed in previous issues, I have heard many people in our industry say ‘ATC privatization is dead.’ This statement usually comes with the attitude that we don’t need to discuss FAA reform because we have debated it, and it is ‘over.’ I believe FAA reform is still on the table, and it may appear in ways we have not thoroughly discussed. In many ways, the conversation is just getting started. . . . The FAA is not a stagnant organization. It has implemented various organizational changes, from statutorily-mandated reforms to internally-initiated reorganizations. . . . The Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act transformation will not be the last organizational change for FAA. We need to maintain our ability to adapt to change thrust upon the FAA, as well as opportunities for internal reform.”
—Peter F. Dumont, “Is ATC Privatization Dead? Not Necessarily,” The Journal of Air Traffic Control, Winter 2017

“Spoofing [of ADS-B] may be deliberate on the part of the crew or may be induced by a third party. Either way, one or more ADS-B transponders will be squitting incorrect data, and the ATM surveillance will be unaware. Potential solution: network the ADS-B receivers and use multilateration. The ATM system is back in control of certification of the data sources; jamming the navigational data has no practical impact on the surveillance data; and spoofing is ineffective as the spoofer has no control of the system calculating the time-difference-of-arrival. With the ADS-B transponders acting normally, ATC has access to the additional data set, and the basic surveillance picture (where the aircraft actually is) is preserved.”
—Mike Gahan (air traffic management and airport specialist), email to Robert Poole, Oct. 5, 2017

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Robert Poole is director of transportation policy and Searle Freedom Trust Transportation Fellow at Reason Foundation.