- Over-hyped airport flow-management tool
- U.S. control tower debacle
- IATA vs. airports and ATC providers
- Vertiports planned for Florida
- Increased air safety over the North Atlantic
- A tale of two airport surveys
- News Notes
- Quotable Quotes
Popular media were full of stories about the release of a new tool for air traffic controllers to minimize long conga lines of departing flights, lined up on taxiways burning fuel and emitting CO2, while frustrating passengers. The reality, unfortunately, is considerably less exciting than most aviation media have conveyed.
The tool emerged from NASA’s ongoing Airspace Technology Demonstration 2 (ATD-2). It will be integrated into FAA’s Terminal Flight Data Manager (TFDM), the NextGen airport surface management program. It was tried out at Charlotte (CLT) and Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW) airports and the FAA/NASA news release provided performance improvements documented during the CLT testing. By using an array of airline, air traffic control, and weather information, the tool aims to release aircraft from the gate so they can taxi out only when it is “optimal” to do so without a long delay on the taxiway. So the tests at CLT measured reductions in fuel burn, CO2 emissions, and delay hours.
FAA’s plan is to roll out the new tool to the 27 busiest airports over the next 10 years. Why 10 years? According to Alan Levin’s Sept. 28 Bloomberg article, “It will take an estimated 10 years to customize the system for each of the airports, all of which have unique layouts, according to FAA.” This sounds a lot like FAA’s Metroplex rollout, which is still under way at major airports more than a decade after it began.
Deciding on the “optimum” time for pushback from the gate is very difficult. What might be optimum for reduced fuel burn may be far from optimal for a departing flight that is already late (due to a late arrival, or any number of other factors). Another very real constraint is that gates are a scarce resource at most of the targeted airports. When an arriving flight lands but finds its gate occupied due to the new tool holding up that plane’s departure, then the arriving plane, in most cases, waits with its engines running until the gate opens up. (This happens to me a lot when traveling.) These kinds of gate conflicts occur more often than they should, in part because airlines often schedule more flights in and out per hour than an airport can handle. So I don’t expect overwhelming savings from this new tweak to TFDM. But let’s go to the numbers from the testing at Charlotte Douglas International.
As reported in NASA’s news release, those tests showed the following savings:
- Fuel savings: 275,000 gallons per year
- Reduced CO2: 8 tons per day
- Reduced delays: 916 hours over four years.
You might wonder why these three key metrics each have different time periods. (And by the way, NASA also included whiz-bang comparisons for each, e.g. the fuel savings would be enough to fly 185 Boeing 737 aircraft between New York and Chicago.) Things look a bit different when you put all three metrics on a daily basis. Thus revised, they are as follows:
- Fuel savings: 753 gallons per day
- CO2 reduced: 8 tons per day
- Delay hours reduced: 0.63 hours per day (37.6 minutes).
And if we then take those daily figures and divide them by the average number of daily departures from Charlotte (around 700), we get the following:
- Fuel savings: 1.1 gallons per departure
- CO2 reduction: 20 pounds per departure
- Delay reduction: 3 seconds per departure.
I guess NASA assumed Americans are math-challenged, and judging from what I’ve read, including in aviation-focused media, many people were taken in by NASA’s various topline estimates for reducing flight delays, fuel usage, and carbon emissions that are far less impressive than they seem.
Every time I see an article about a U.S. airport needing an air traffic control tower, I wonder if the FAA is living in a separate world from the rest of us. As I’ve been reporting for the last seven years, across much of Europe remote/digital air traffic control towers are going in, both as replacements for conventional towers and as towers for smaller airports that have lacked tower services. Most recently, the control tower needs of Tampa, FL, and Bend, OR, have been in the news.
Tampa’s 49-year old tower is “deteriorating,” Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) told the Tampa Bay Times, and it sounds as if she’s right. Controller complaints include sometimes-inoperative elevators, heating and air conditioning problems, cracked windows, broken water pipes near electrical wiring, and plumbing and sewage problems. In the same article, an FAA spokesperson said the agency “looks forward to the passage of this once-in-a-generation funding” to fix such problems. And Rep. Castor has written to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and FAA Administrator Steve Dickson, pleading for a new tower.
This is the age-old political game. Congress spells out the FAA budget, focusing on new ribbon-cutting opportunities for its members (“See this wonderful new tower I brought you!”) while allowing FAA to skimp on ongoing maintenance of a whole flotilla of aging facilities, many of which could be consolidated. And because FAA sticks with the very costly 20th-century model of a tall building with windows as the controllers’ means of keeping track of arrivals and departures, the cost of each replacement tower is likely twice what a remote/digital tower at ground level would cost to install and maintain.
Besides being a lot more costly (meaning fewer such towers can be built each funding cycle), conventional air traffic control tower performance lags that of remote towers with infrared as well as conventional video cameras and other digital features that enable controllers to “see” flights in rain, fog, and other adverse conditions, as well as avoiding runway incursions.
FAA and Congress, ever since the Reagan and Clinton administrations, have taken a somewhat more cost-effective approach to towers suitable for smaller airports that historically have lacked towers. The FAA Contract Tower (FCT) program has provided new towers that cost less to build and much less to operate than comparable towers at FAA-towered airports. Bend Municipal Airport is Oregon’s third-busiest but still lacks a tower. It was accepted last fall as a candidate for FCT, and it’s working on getting a consultant to wend its way through the process. Yet, the FCT program still does not include the option of a lower-construction-cost remote/digital tower (despite Congress authorizing this in 2018). As I have reported periodically since 2014, the two state-initiated remote tower projects (at Leesburg, VA, and Loveland, CO) are still struggling to gain final FAA certification after years of operational testing.
This is ludicrous. The FAA was once regarded, correctly, as operating the best and most advanced air traffic control system in the world. Sadly, that is no longer true, and the absence of remote/digital towers in the National Airspace System is an embarrassing case in point.
A war of words broke out last month, initiated by Willie Walsh, the head of the International Air Transport Association. In an Oct. 4 news release, Walsh lambasted airports and air navigation service providers (ANSPs) for planned rate increases starting in 2022. Walsh referred to “confirmed airport and ANSP charges increases” of $2.3 billion announced thus far as “outrageous.” This is rather hypocritical coming from the head of an airline industry that, together with airports, has received $225 billion in COVID-19 grants and loans from governments, the lion’s share of which has gone to airlines.
At the World Routes 2021 conference in Milan on Oct. 10, Airports Council International-World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira described Walsh’s blast as disappointing and not “part of the good spirit of the industry.” Airports have taken huge hits during the COVID-19 pandemic, as their revenues collapsed, and while they were able to cut some costs, many had to use reserve funds and/or equity injections from shareholders to avoid defaulting on their bonds. The idea that they should not begin increasing rates and charges as air travel recovers is bizarre. He also pointed out that ANSP and airport charges in 2020 together made up only about 5% of airline operating costs that year.
Compared with airlines and airports, ANSPs have received little or no government bailouts during the pandemic. Yet, because their air traffic management systems had to remain operational (for air cargo and the limited amount of passenger airline traffic), ANSPs had very few options to reduce their operating budgets. Airports could close down some terminals, but ANSPs could not close down some sectors.
ANSPs in Europe did get one break, thanks to Eurocontrol, which provides high-altitude air traffic control services in the MUAC flight information region but also bills and collects ATC charges across Europe on behalf of the ANSPs of each country. In April 2020, Eurocontrol’s 41 member governments agreed on a plan under which $1.2 billion in ATC charges to airlines would be deferred to 2021, and to cover ongoing ANSP costs during this deferral, the 41 member governments approved a Eurocontrol loan of $1.38 billion for short-term compensation of ANSPs. The underlying premise, of course, was that ANSP charging would resume in 2021 and might well have to be increased in 2022 and beyond.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Walsh later in October blasted a proposed increase in the regulated airline charges at London Heathrow (LHR). Under the U.K. government’s RPI Minus X regulatory regime for the largest U.K. airports, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) reviews an airport’s capital and operating costs every five years and estimates a reasonable increase or decrease in airline charges. The preliminary announcement was that the CAA was looking into an increase from the current average charge per passenger of £22 to between £24.50 and £34.40. While the CAA conducts discussions with LHR stakeholders on the final five-year charging scheme, an interim £30/passenger model will be implemented.
Since Heathrow is in the early stages of planning and design of its third runway, and also has to recoup pandemic losses, this seems reasonable to me, given LHR’s £2 billion operating loss in 2020.
NASA continues to research the potential roles of eVTOL and other electric-powered aircraft for both Urban Air Mobility (UAM) and Regional Air Mobility (RAM). UAM’s focus is primarily on air-taxi services within a metro area, while RAM concerns short-haul service between cities up to several hundred miles apart. My current assessment is that the market for RAM is likely to be far larger than that for UAM (which strikes me as a luxury niche market that might replace urban helicopter services that have never become profitable businesses). But these are early days, and I might be wrong. Either type of new air travel that involves vertical takeoffs and landings (VTOL) will require the development of vertiports, and there are a number of recent developments on this subject, two of them in Florida.
NASA Ames has released a GIS (geographical information system) model to assist transportation planners in figuring out suitable locations for new vertiports. Late last month it was reviewed by transportation planners in Hillsborough County (Tampa), Florida. Brian Pessaro of the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit authority (TBARTA) and NASA’s Kapil Sheth explained how the model works based on its initial assessment of potential Hillsborough County vertiport sites. The most promising locations were in or near downtown Tampa and at Tampa International Airport.
The same Sept. 27 Catalyst article included the news that neighboring St. Petersburg’s Mayor Rick Kriseman has held talks with eVTOL company Lilium about possible service in the region. Unlike most eVTOL air-taxi developers, Lilium is focusing on somewhat larger aircraft aimed at trips between cities several hundred miles apart (i.e., RAM). Back in January, it announced a framework agreement with Ferrovial Airports, one of the world’s largest airport companies, to develop a network of vertiports in Florida, starting with a hub vertiport in an Orlando suburb. Lilium’s chief operating officer, Dr. Remo Gerber, said then that its strategy is to locate Florida vertiports such that nearly all 20 million Floridians will live within 30 minutes of one of these vertiports. In late October, Ferrovial Airports announced the launch of a U.S. headquarters for its Ferrovial Vertiports business, to be located initially in Dallas.
Another vertiport development plan was announced last month. Hyundai and U.K. startup Urban-Air Port unveiled plans to develop 65 vertiports at key locations in the U.S., U.K., European Union, and Asia Pacific. The first vertiport is scheduled to be opened early next year in Coventry, England. Their concept is a compact, modular design to enable vertiports to be located in dense urban areas and potentially to be moved to a different site as the UAM sector expands. Hyundai is investing $1.5 billion in UAM, partly to support Urban-Air Port but also to develop its own eVTOL for service beginning in 2028.
The vast majority of people flying across oceans likely, and understandably, have no idea how air traffic has been managed in vast airspaces where there is no radar surveillance. If you told them about “procedural” separation, under which pilots periodically call in their estimated position via unreliable high-frequency (HF) radio, and may then be out of contact for as much as 45 minutes, many of those passengers would likely be aghast. And if they thought a little further and wondered what would happen in an emergency, or if a plane drifted off track, some might have reconsidered flying across an ocean at all.
The good news is that the advent of space-based ADS-B global surveillance has changed all that. Controllers now can see the position, altitude, and speed of every aircraft with those and other data elements updated every eight seconds, thanks to this system developed and operated by Aireon. An excellent update on ADS-B in the North Atlantic appears in the current issue of Air Traffic Technology International 2022: “Changing Tracks in the North Atlantic,” by aviation reporter David Hughes. While Hughes covers an array of topics, including improvements in aircraft performance and fuel savings (due to getting their requested optimal altitudes far more often), in this article my focus is on the increased safety of oceanic flying in those airspaces (such as the North Atlantic) where the ANSPs subscribe to Aireon’s real-time surveillance data.
As part of his research for the article, Hughes visited an Aireon facility and learned that thanks to the system’s constellation of 66 satellites, an aircraft can be under surveillance by as many as seven satellites at a time, providing considerable redundancy. One of the problems with “procedural” separation has been the long time delays between a plane drifting off its assigned track or altitude and potentially heading for a collision without the controller knowing this. Another problem was a pilot deciding to deviate due to some problem but not notifying a controller until many minutes later. Today on the North Atlantic, with updates every eight seconds, controllers quickly see a change of direction, altitude, or other deviation and can communicate with the pilot via controller-pilot datalink (now on about 90% of aircraft traversing the North Atlantic).
Ever since global altitude separations were reduced in the 1990s, the ANSPs handling the North Atlantic had not been meeting their risk target for collisions (the chance of a fatal collision being no more than 5 x 10-9 per flight hour). But thanks to ADS-B quickly alerting controllers to deviations, the safety risk has been reduced 76% from pre-ADS-B levels in the past several years.
Another safety benefit is Aireon Alert, offered at no charge to aircraft operators and ANSPs. In the event of a surveilled aircraft ceasing to broadcast, the alert system provides any ANSP and rescue organization that has signed up the most recent 15 minutes’ worth of flight data, enabling a faster and more accurate search and rescue effort. Aireon Alert was developed and is operated in partnership with the Irish Aviation Authority. As of the Hughes article, 308 ANSPs, rescue services, and others have signed up for the service, along with 145 airlines.
While the safety and operational benefits of space-based ADS-B are being realized every day in North Atlantic airspace (the responsibility of Nav Canada and NATS), no such service is in operation over the Pacific Ocean, whose largest flight information regions are FAA’s responsibility. Officially, FAA is still studying possible applications for the service in the Caribbean, which would be beneficial, but it has said nothing about bringing the safety and efficiency benefits to the vast Pacific oceanic airspace. Maybe it’s time for the FAA Management Advisory Council to push harder on this subject.
With the results of the annual J.D. Power Airport Customer Satisfaction Survey being released last month, I thought it would be interesting to compare these results (for U.S. airports only) with the latest Skytrax World’s Top 100 Airports survey. Both are carried out by professional firms, surveying only U.S. air travelers in the first case and global air travelers in the second.
First, kudos to the top-scoring U.S. airports as ranked by their passengers. In the “large” airport category the top five are:
- Louis Armstrong New Orleans International [with a brand new terminal]
- Tampa International [ongoing major upgrades]
- Raleigh-Durham International
- Dallas Love Field
- Salt Lake City International [also a major new terminal]
And in the “mega” airport category, here are the top five U.S. airports:
- Miami International
- New York’s Kennedy International
- Minneapolis-St. Paul International
- Orlando International
- Phoenix Sky Harbor International
Congratulations to these winners, as judged by U.S. air travelers.
The Skytrax survey of global air travelers involves mostly airports with large fractions on international flights. So it’s not surprising that none of the five “large” airports in the J.D. Power survey appears in the Skytrax top 100. What is especially interesting, however, is the relatively low Skytrax rankings of U.S. large and mega airports with lots of international travel. Of the top five in the J.D. Power mega category, only JFK (#77 in Skytrax), MSP (#81), and PHX (#83) appear in the Skytrax top 100. Only four U.S. airports make the top 50 in Skytrax:
Houston Intercontinental (#31), Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky (#34), Denver (#37), and Atlanta (#41). Ten other U.S. airports are in the bottom 25 in the top 100, including JFK (#77), MSP (#81), BOS (#82), PHX (#83), and DTW (#95).
To be sure, the world includes a much larger array of airports for global travelers to evaluate, but to repeat a point I made in a recent policy study, one explanatory variable seems to be ownership form. Of the top 25 airports in the Skytrax survey, 11 are either wholly or partly privately owned (e.g., Copenhagen, Heathrow, Frankfurt, Vienna) or privately financed and managed under long-term public-private partnership arrangements (e.g., Cape Town, Kansai, Melbourne). And of the Skytrax top 50, which includes only four U.S. airports as noted above, 27 are private or P3 airports.
These two surveys show what relevant groups of air travelers think of the quality and performance of the airports they use. That so few U.S. airports make the global top 100 should serve as a wake-up call for the owners of America’s airports. Yes, some are seen as better than others, but most are likely not as good as they could be, as assessed by international air travelers.
San Antonio Seeking Proposals for Airport Connector
The Alamo Regional Mobility Authority has issued a Request for Qualifications and Proposals (RFQP) for a project to transport people between downtown San Antonio and its international airport (SAT). The winning team would design, build, and possibly finance and operate the new facility via a public-private partnership (P3) agreement. In response to a Request for Information issued in 2019, the most substantive response was a proposed tunnel from Elon Musk’s The Boring Company. The RFQP asks respondents to include a project concept, preliminary cost, financial feasibility, and project delivery approach. Interviews with short-listed teams are planned for January 2022.
French Airports Challenge Mandated Shift to Rail
The trade association of French airports (UAF), along with ACI-Europe, has filed suit in Brussels over a new French law that bans domestic flights for which a rail alternative with a trip time of 2.5 hours or less exists. This would ban flights between Paris Orly and Bordeaux, Orly and Nantes, Orly and Lyon, and between Lyon and Marseille. The law excludes flights operating as connectors to hubs. The measure would become effective in spring 2022. UAF and ACI-Europe argue that the CO2 savings from the measure are miniscule compared to the negative effects on the airports and airlines involved.
Another Australian Airport Privatized
Jandakot Airport in Perth has been sold in a deal worth $946 million. The buyers were investment fund Dexus and property group APN Industrial REIT, with Dexus having two-thirds of the ownership. While not the primary commercial airport in Perth, Jandakot is one of the busiest secondary hub airports in Australia. Dexus manages a portfolio of properties valued at $23 billion.
SpaceX Starlink Satellites Provide Alternative to GPS for Location Function
Researchers from Ohio State University’s Center for Automated Vehicles Research with Multimodal Assured Navigation (CARMEN) have figured out how to use signals from the growing SpaceX constellation of low-orbit Starlink satellites to identify a location on earth within an accuracy of 8 meters. Doing this required using signals from six of the 1,700 satellites in the current constellation. Because they are in much lower orbits than GPS satellites, the signals are much stronger and less subject to interference. The researchers told GPS Daily that as the constellation grows to as many as 40,000 satellites, the precision of the location information should improve considerably.
Belgium To Unify Air Navigation
Three former providers of air traffic services over Belgium have announced a plan that leads to a single unified air traffic management system by 2027. Historically, the Ministry of Defense has operated its own air traffic system, but recently it switched to Shared Air Traffic Services System 2 (SAS2) developed and operated by the Maastricht Upper Area Control Center (MUAC), which is responsible for upper airspace (above 24,500 ft.) over Belgium and adjacent countries. That left Belgian airports, operating their own Aircat system for control towers and non-military low-altitude airspace. These two systems will be replaced by SAS3, planned to be operational by 2027. MUAC told Aviation24 that the SAS system is based on the virtual center concept developed by MUAC and the Royal Netherlands Air Force and used by the Belgian Air Force (as SAS 2) since 2019.
LaGuardia Air Train Project on Hold
New York’s new governor, Kathy Hochul, has asked FAA and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to review alternative transit options to the previously FAA-approved plan for the new rail link from LGA to an existing station served by the No. 7 subway line and the Long Island Railroad. Based on previous analysis, the Port Authority has defended the plan as the least-destructive to Queens neighborhoods, but continuing NIMBY and environmental group protests have led to this new delay for the proposed $2.1 billion project.
Denver Signs First Contracts for $1.2 Billion Runway
Despite already having six long and widely separated runways, Denver officials have let $83.5 million worth of contracts to begin planning and environmental review for a seventh runway. The airport property has room for up to 12 runways on its huge acreage. Chicago O’Hare leads the nation with eight runways, and DFW is next with seven. The three contracts approved by the city council go to AECOM, HNTB, and Jacobs Engineering.
Eurocontrol Awards $203 Million Contract for Its Network Manager Role
Spanish company Indra has won a major contract to digitalize the data used to manage high-altitude airspace across Europe. The aim of the project is to enable Eurocontrol’s network manager function to improve air traffic flow management. Digitalization will lay the basis for Eurocontrol’s planned integrated Network Management system, which will coordinate airport slot availability based on the time of an aircraft’s departure.
United Objects to Newark Slot Decision
FAA’s decision to re-allocate 16 vacant EWR slots (eight arrival-departure pairs) to a low-cost or ultra-low-cost carrier, to increase competition at this United fortress hub, has drawn objections from United. Since the slots are all at peak times of day, United claims the decision will worsen congestion during those peak periods. This ignores the fact that those 16 slots were previously used by Southwest, which freed up the slots by exiting EWR in 2019. It also ignores the legal option available to EWR and other airports with peak-period congestion to increase its landing fees during peaks, as privatized U.K. airports Heathrow and Gatwick have done for many years.
New Haven Approves Airport Lease Deal
At its September 23 meeting, the Board of Elders of New Haven approved the 43-year P3 lease between Tweed New Haven Airport (HVN) and AvPorts. The company has committed to building a new passenger terminal, in addition to extending the runway to handle fully loaded 737s like those planned to be based there by start-up airline Avelo.
GAO Points to FAA Metroplex Problem
FAA’s Metroplex plan to implement performance-based navigation (PBN) procedures in the airspace serving the nation’s 21 largest metro areas has been slowed down considerably by citizen complaints over increased noise exposure. In GAO-21-103933, the Government Accountability Office offers some possible remedies. First, it suggests relying not just on a single Day-Night Average Sound Level (DNL) to measure airport noise, since perceived noise depends a lot on flight frequency as well as actual decibel levels. Second, it suggests using supplemental metrics (in addition to DNL), like those used in designing new flight paths, to explain projected changes in noise from the altered PBN approach and departure plans.
AOPA Objects to Nassau Passenger Charge
The Lynden Pindling International Airport in Nassau, Bahamas has proposed a $28 passenger facility charge for individuals arriving from overseas on private aircraft. The revenue would be spent on funding “major construction projects to better serve GA passengers and reduce their delay impact on commercial flights and passengers.” The November issue of AOPA Pilot magazine criticizes the proposed PFC as “creating a disparate cost burden on GA flights, likely curtailing economic benefits.”
Inspector General Plans Audit of FAA Staffing and Training
In an October 12 news release, the DOT Office of Inspector General (OIG) announced a self-initiated audit of how FAA selects, trains, and allocates controllers for the agency’s more than 300 staffed facilities. The audit will include assessing the impact on controller training of COVID-19.
U.K. Civil Aviation Authority Takes on Space Flight
New U.K. statutes add responsibilities to the CAA’s charter. They include space launch licensing, spaceport licensing, range control services, and satellite operations. The CAA announced that it intends to be a light-touch regulator of space-related activities, as it has been for civil aviation. For more detail, see “UK Regulator Limbers Up for Space Role,” Tony Osborne, Aviation Week, August 9-29, 2021.
DFW Expands Concourse Using Six Modular Units
In a U.S. first, a DFW Airport contractor built six terminal modules in a prefabrication yard on airport property and between August 26 and September 9, transported them across the airfield and hoisted them into place. The modules averaged nearly 960,000 lbs. (480 tons) and were each moved by a 64-wheel transporter. As installed, the modules are 60% completed, and finishing and testing plans call for the new terminal space to be opened by summer 2022.
“Paternalistic governments have dug deep into their pockets during the pandemic. Between its onset and March this year, public handouts to aviation exceeded $225 billion globally, IATA calculates. This largesse helps explain why fewer carriers entered bankruptcy worldwide in calamitous 2020 (43 of them) than in 2018 (56) or 2019 (46) according to Cirium. Even if cash infusions tide some airlines over, though, they are no cure-all. On the contrary, they may prove poisonous. As Mr. Morris of Cirium politely puts it, state support leads to ‘inappropriate cost bases.’ One careworn observer remarks that Air France-KLM, a Franco-Dutch entity, has been ‘paid by the government not to restructure.’ France wants to save as many jobs as possible, and the Netherlands to ensure that Schiphol in Amsterdam remains a big connecting airport. Neither objective has much to do with returns.”
—“The Airline Business: Dark Skies and Silver Linings,” The Economist, July 10, 2021
“Speaking at an ACI-Europe symposium in June, Jon Phillips of the Global Infrastructure Investors Association noted that his members, which invest in a range of infrastructure, including pipelines, water, electricity distribution, and so on, as well as airports, currently have $200 billion sitting on the sidelines, waiting to invest. The GIAA experience of airport regulation is threefold: it varies considerably by country; the regulators go to a remarkably deep level of granularity reviewing and regulating so that the ability of airport managers to actually manage commercially is limited; and that generally, there is a populist focus on rates going down now instead of addressing longer-term issues.”
—Andrew Charlton, Aviation Intelligence Reporter, July 2021
“In general [electric propulsion] works better for ground transportation than air. Batteries are heavy, and even when their charge is depleted, they remain heavy. The kerosene burned by jet engines packs a lot of energy for its weight, and once used, it’s gone, and the plane gets lighter. Unless there are big changes in battery technology, the weight required to fly large airliners with passengers and cargo over long distances doesn’t work.”
—Scott McCartney, “Electric Planes and a Refund Surprise,” The Wall Street Journal, Sept. 27, 2021
“At home, we definitely need a sovereign capability for when space is denied by solar weather or our adversaries. Also to be a check on space signals because our adversaries and criminals are spoofing them more and more. I have always thought eLoran was a good choice. The UK pioneered its development and had the world’s first operational system in 2015. It is really hard to interfere with the signal, and there are other features that could be added to it that would make it even more robust. There was a very interesting report called MarRINav put out last year about what UK maritime needs to ensure it can navigate regardless of whether the satellites are working or not. They came up with a reasonably inexpensive combination of systems anchored by eLoran.”
—Admiral Lord West, quoted in Dana Goward, “Galileo, OneWeb, and the UK’s Sovereignty Way Forward,” GPS World, Sept. 15, 2021