Aviation Policy News: Global airport privatization, air traffic control reform comeback, and more
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Aviation Policy Newsletter

Aviation Policy News: Global airport privatization, air traffic control reform comeback, and more

Plus: Addressing near-misses at U.S. airports, FAA's problem with remote towers, and more.

In this issue:

Global Airport Privatization Resumes Take-off
By Marc Scribner

Having survived the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, the global trend of private investment in airports—via outright purchase, long-term lease, or public-private partnership projects at airports—continued its recovery in 2022. These activities are documented in Reason Foundation’s 2023 Annual Privatization Report: Aviation, which is available now to readers of this newsletter ahead of its publication tomorrow.

The airport section includes an updated table of reported 2021 revenue of the world’s 38 largest fully or partially investor-owned airport companies, with the five largest in the first year of recovery from the pandemic being Aeroports de Paris, Aena Aeropuertos, Fraport, Heathrow Airport Holdings, and Vinci Airports. As the recovery gained steam in 2022, albeit with wide variation around the world, there is reason for optimism for continued growth in airport privatization activities.

Looking more closely at the top-five investor-owned airport companies by revenue, Vinci Airports had the most-active expansion in 2022. In July, Vinci Airports signed a 40-year public-private partnership (P3) agreement to modernize and operate four international airports and three domestic airports in the Cape Verde islands off the Atlantic coast of Africa. In August, Vinci Airports announced its $1.17 billion purchase of a 29.99% stake in OMA, the company that operates 13 airports in northern, central, and along the Pacific coast of Mexico under a 50-year concession agreement. That sale reached financial close in December, increasing the company’s global portfolio to 65 airports.

Last year, several countries announced renewed interest in airport privatization. Greece is preparing to relaunch the sale of the government’s 30% stake in Athens International Airport after the pandemic put that transaction on hold. Japan also resumed privatization discussions for Kagoshima, Komatsu, and Oita airports following a two-year pause. Vietnam is pursuing multiple P3 airport concessions as part of its ambitious airport modernization plan, including a new $1.7 billion airport for which construction may begin later in 2023. In addition, Colombia is considering a P3 concession for its largest airport in the capital city of Bogotá, while the government of Sweden released a report recommending the partial privatization of Arlanda Stockholm Airport, that country’s largest airport.

These activities suggest long-term global interest in airport privatization remains strong following two years of uncertainty. But the United States remains an outlier, despite the large benefits that privatization offers travelers, governments, and taxpayers. A 2021 Reason Foundation study used valuations from the sale and lease of airports worldwide in recent decades to estimate the potential market value of 31 large U.S. airports owned by city, county, and state governments. In doing so, it used a high-end valuation based on 20 times EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation, and amortization), which is less than the 23 times EBITDA paid in the March 2022 Sydney Airport transaction.

This should interest private investors as well as government airport owners, which could use lease proceeds to improve their fiscal positions and fund other infrastructure improvements. Even at 20 times EBITDA, the Reason study found that for 20 of the 31 airports, leasing could be used to cover at least 60% of the jurisdictions’ unfunded public employee pension liabilities, which are a significant long-term drag on state and local government fiscal health in the United States.

Despite these benefits, whole-airport privatization and P3 leases in the U.S. remain vanishingly rare. Connecticut offered one bright spot in 2022. In Sept. 2021, the New Haven Board of Elders approved a 43-year lease between Tweed New Haven Airport in Connecticut and its airport management company, Avports, in which the company would invest $100 million in capital improvements. Avports has been the longtime contract manager of the airport. In Aug. 2022, the Tweed New Haven Airport Authority finalized an agreement with Avports to enter a long-term concession. If the Environmental Assessment is approved, it would be the first time in the U.S. that an airport’s contract manager became its financial partner. Interestingly, the airport authority and Avports have reportedly structured the agreement so that it does not require approval under the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Investment Partnership Program, which was designed to facilitate airport privatization but has been barely used.

Despite the lack of whole-airport privatizations in the U.S., there has been growing use of public-private partnerships for individual airport projects. The replacement of New York LaGuardia Airport’s outdated central terminal opened to great fanfare in Dec. 2021 and won the 2021 UNESCO best new airport facility competition, as well as being featured in a glowing profile of “the team that fixed LaGuardia” in a Sept. 2022 article in The Wall Street Journal. At New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, the $4.2 billion Terminal 6 JetBlue project reached financial close in Nov. 2022 after being delayed for two years by the pandemic.

Smaller-scale airport terminal public-private partnerships in the U.S. are also showing promise. In Feb. 2022, the Gulf Shores Airport Authority selected Vinci Airports and TBI Airport Management to build, finance, and operate a passenger terminal and ancillary facilities at the general aviation Jack Edwards National Airport in Alabama. The P3 agreement was signed in Sept. 2022. The construction cost is estimated at $17 million, plus $3.7 million to construct a temporary terminal to allow commercial air service to launch shortly following financial close. Currently, 95% of the area’s seven million annual visitors must drive at least an hour to the nearest commercial airport, either to the east in Pensacola, Florida, or northwest to Mobile, Alabama.

The Annual Privatization Report — Aviation also covers recent private-sector activities in air traffic control, with particular attention to the past year’s developments in digital and remote air traffic control towers, and has updates related to contract airport security screening and trusted traveler programs.

Editor’s note: Readers of this newsletter also have early access to my Annual Privatization Report 2023 — Transportation Finance section examining developments in the infrastructure investment fund world, providing updates on the largest companies and major P3 projects underway, and reviewing pension funds’ increasing investment in revenue-generating infrastructure. — Bob

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Is Air Traffic Control Reform Making a Comeback?

In the week of May 8, three unexpected news items crossed my screen. First, in an interview on Fox Business, former United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz responded to a recent Government Accountability Office report on recent flight delays and cancellations, which fingered airline staff shortages and maintenance challenges. Munoz disagreed, saying something more fundamental is wrong:

“If you dig beneath the surface a little bit more, . . in my opinion, the biggest issue that we have in America is broader—infrastructure, but specifically in air travel, the air traffic control system. We have the most outdated and I would say obsolete system in almost the entire world. There are 60 countries at last count that have better and newer updated systems to control air traffic.”

Next was an editorial by the editors of Bloomberg.com headlined, “It’s Time to Privatize Air Traffic Control.” After a brief recap of recent near-collisions at airports and the NOTAM fiasco, the editorial noted the continued use of paper flight strips, and the never-ending NextGen program whose benefits, per the Department of Transportation Inspector General, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has over-estimated by more than $100 billion. It went on to discuss the global shift to user-funded air traffic control (ATC) utilities in Canada and most of Europe, and that doing likewise in this country would free the ATC system from Congress’ “budgetary chaos.” The editorial concluded by urging that the shift to a user-funded nonprofit corporation included in House bills in 2016 and 2018 “should be revived and enacted.”

Finally, as if to admit that these criticisms have some merit, Aviation Week’s May 8-21 issue featured a three-page article headlined “An Agency Adrift.” It discussed the many problems facing the still-leaderless FAA, quoted experts such as David Grizzle, former chief operating officer of the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization, and quoted a paragraph from last month’s issue of this newsletter:

“In the 2023 FAA reauthorization bill, one step in the right direction would be to separate the ATO from FAA, which would, at last, comply with a 2001 International Civil Aviation Organization policy calling for such separation between safety regulation and the provision of ATC services,” says Robert Poole, Reason Foundation’s director of transportation policy. “The independent ATO would also need to be freed from Office of Management & Budget budgetary control, able to request a lump sum budget from Congress, and to ask for increased user taxes to pay for that budget. Simply giving FAA a bit more money for the next five years would perpetuate a failed status quo.”

Needless to say, I would like to see the Air Traffic Organization (ATO) become a true user-funded air traffic control utility like Nav Canada or the United Kingdom’s NATS. But that would be a huge lift between now and Sept. 30, when FAA’s current authorization expires. The large former coalition of 2016-2018, which included the major airlines, unions for air traffic controllers and pilots, think tanks from the center-left and center-right, the Business Roundtable, FAA’s Management Advisory Council, etc., are no longer organized and ready to fight that good fight once again and due to retirements, and staff and management turnover, many of the people who took part in that reform effort are no longer in the same places, including key congressional staffers and airline CEOs.

But the modest reform Reason Foundation has suggested for this year would at least address the ATO’s inability to finance major modernizations and might begin the evolution of a more entrepreneurial organizational culture. To provide context for a new effort on air traffic control reform, Reason is preparing a primer on air traffic control and why funding and governance reform are needed more than ever. Look for it next month.

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FAA and Remote Towers: What’s Really Going On?

Last month’s newsletter article on FAA’s remote tower debacle led to considerably more responses than most articles generate. I’ve learned a lot more about what’s really happening to efforts to bring this proven, decade-old technology to U.S. airports.

One reader sent the entire transcript of a March 13 meeting of the Leesburg Town Council, at which the airport director and a senior official from remote-tower developer Saab spoke and answered questions.

From the transcript, I learned that the Leesburg, VA, remote twoer project made more progress than I’d seen reported in either aviation media or general media stories, from The Washington Post and others covering the issue. The town and Saab have actually built a remote tower center (off the airport) that could be could be expanded in future years to serve other small airports (as Germany, Norway, and Sweden have already done). The FAA’s decision to turn off the remote tower capability as of June 14 leaves Leesburg Airport with no tower capability (with serious consequences for safety and for losing business to other airports) and potentially no replacement with a conventional (brick and mortar) tower for about four years. Yet the remote tower has performed flawlessly for more than four years.

Leesburg Airport Director Scott Coffman recounted FAA’s approvals at each step, with the agency’s testing from 2016 to 2018, and allowing the remote tower (RT) to control air traffic seven days a week since June 2018. In 2019, FAA approved the plans for the remote tower center, which opened in May 2021. In that year FAA issued its “operational viability” decision, verifying that the remote tower was operating safely and efficiently. And in 2022 FAA brought in a radar feed and stand-alone STARS radar display, which added considerably to the information available to controllers. But then the bottom fell out in early 2023, Saab’s Matt Massiano explained. Nearly all the progress discussed above involved FAA’s air traffic people. But what changed after “operational viability” was that formal certification was turned over to FAA tech operations people. And that’s where the trouble began. Unlike other airfield equipment (such as ASDE-X), which had always been certified by air traffic, tech ops are the people who certify a select set of federal systems, and they chose a process used to approve the design and development of aircraft and aircraft systems. Tech ops basically wanted Saab (and any other company with an already operational RT system) to “reverse engineer” their operational system to justify its safety. Moreover, they introduced a new requirement that any RT provider must bring its technology to the FAA Tech Center in Atlantic City and install it there for further testing.

Moreover, as I reported last month, what FAA would have ended up certifying was an RT that could only be installed at airports similar to Leesburg, with its single 5,500-foot runway. Massiano explained that their market research had identified about 250 U.S. contract-tower airports as its potential market once Leesburg was certified. But only three are similar enough to permit the certified system to be installed as an aging tower replacement. That’s how FAA killed the Leesburg project.

Because other companies also have operational remote towers and remote tower centers certified in Europe and see opportunities in the United States, FAA belatedly decided it needed to inform “RT vendors” about how it plans to proceed. A source sent me the slides from two FAA remote tower briefings from March 15 and 16. The March 15 briefing to FAA’s Research, Engineering, and Development Advisory Committee (REDAC) portrayed FAA as carrying out Congress’ requirement that the agency develop and implement a remote tower pilot program. It does not acknowledge that nearly five years after the reauthorization legislation was signed, there are still only two—not five—RT projects under way, and both are in trouble due to FAA changing its evaluation process. Toward the end, it admits to changing its approach to require centralized testing and evaluation (undefined) at Atlantic City and bizarrely claims that the new approach, “Accelerates [the] timeline in meeting goals of Congressional direction.” Its only positive note is that “preliminary comprehensive cost analysis shows that RTs are likely a cost-effective alternative to brick-and-mortar for most airports, but it is site-specific.” Well, duh!

But the vendor briefing on March 16 risks scaring away every company that has developed working, certified remote towers and remote tower centers in Europe. This briefing also claims that FAA is “accelerating” the timeline for meeting the goals Congress set out, four years late. But the real killer is on the slide laying out the timeline for System Development Approval (SDA)—the process that must take place in Atlantic City prior to installing and commissioning the RT at an airport. Just the SDA is shown as taking 36 months.

This is bizarre. In the FAA reauthorization that is due to occur by this fall, Congress would be well-advised to require FAA to change course on remote towers.

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Another Remote Tower Company Encounters FAA’s Brick Wall

Norwegian company Kongsberg, which has developed remote towers and remote tower centers in Europe began looking into the U.S. market in 2015, and its contacts at FAA first suggested it look for an airport without a tower, but in 2017 FAA suggested instead looking at airports with contract towers. Its search led to serious interest from the Concord-Padgett Regional Airport in North Carolina, about 25 miles from Charlotte. After several years of discussion, the company and the city of Concord signed a 10-year agreement to work together to implement an RT and RTC. By Aug. 2022 the project was ready to apply for a construction permit, but when they learned about FAA’s change in the process to achieve certification, that was put on hold.

Like Saab, Kongsberg has extensive remote tower experience in Europe. After developing and implementing several remote towers in Norway, the company worked with Norwegian ANSP Avinor to develop a remote tower system from which 15 small airports will be managed. The last time I checked, that center was already managing traffic at 11 airports, and all 15 are planned to be operational by the end of 2024.

Besides Saab and Kongsberg, the other two companies that are seeking U.S. remote tower business are Searidge (Canada) and Frequentis (Austria). Searidge’s first U.S. venture is with the Northern Colorado Regional Airport in Loveland, CO, which is having its own problems gaining FAA approval. Frequentis, as far as I can determine, is so far sticking with the Defense Department, which appears to be cooperating well with the company as it tests its RT product at several active U.S. military bases.

What FAA seems unable to come to terms with is that all four of these companies have proven, certified RT systems in operation in a growing number of countries, mostly in Europe but also several in the Asia/Pacific region. FAA’s insistence that each of them devote three years to reverse-engineering their systems at Atlantic City before being allowed to implement anything at an airport makes no sense. Talk about ‘not-invented here.’ And as Saab has pointed out, all the on-airport systems it has deployed at more than 40 U.S. air carrier airports (ASDE-X and ASSC) were certified by FAA’s air traffic people, not by FAA tech operations.

This is not what Congress intended nearly five years ago by mandating a remote tower pilot program that would have five airports nearing operational RTs by now.

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How FAA Views the Future of Control Towers

There are scores of aging air traffic control towers at small U.S. airports, most of them in the agency’s Contract Tower program. Many need replacing because of age, because lengthened or new runways cannot be fully viewed from the tower windows, or because they are in what is now defined as an unsafe location. All of these are good candidates for either a remote tower that would cost one-third to one-half as much as building a brick-and-mortar tower, and somewhat less to operate. Some locations would also be candidates to get tower services from a remote tower center that serves multiple airports.

Instead of certifying well-proven European RTs and RTCs, FAA’s vision of the future is to have architectural firms compete for a standard design of “sustainable” bricks and mortar towers. Last month it announced the winner of its competition: Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU), based in New York. Key sustainability elements offered by PAU include:

  • All-electric building systems
  • Materials and products free from chemicals known to pose health risks
  • Thermally efficient façade
  • High-recycled steel and metal products
  • Renewable mass timber, when usable
  • Ground-source heating and cooling in some environments.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg proudly announced: “I look forward to seeing this design go from the drawing board to construction sites across the country, helping our nation’s airports support more travelers, grow their local economies, and prepare for the future of low-carbon aviation.”

The initial 31 control towers in this new program are intended to replace aging towers. FAA has set aside more than $500 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support site evaluations, preparation, and early construction activities.

Congress should require FAA to change direction on future control towers by stopping this ill-advised project before it goes any further.  

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Further Thoughts on Preventing Runway Incursions

Last month’s newsletter article on the alarming number of near-collisions on airport runways so far in 2023 generated nearly as much feedback as my piece on FAA and remote towers. In the process, I learned more about the technologies in use in both the United States and Europe.

First, it turns out that the Advanced Surface Movement Guidance and Control (A-SMGC) systems in use at many larger European airports are very similar to the ASDE-X and ASSC systems in place at 44 larger U.S. airports. Both are based on a combination of surface movement radar (SMR), multilateration (MLAT), and ADS-B. Hence, the implication in my article that A-SMGC is more advanced is not the case.

However, I also found out that 27 of the 35 ASDE-X systems use a 1980s-vintage SMR (operating in the Ku-band), for which spare parts appear to be unavailable. Outages due to failing SMRs are reported to last days or weeks since FAA shuts the whole system off until the SMR can be repaired. A knowledgeable source tells me that much newer X-band SMRs (like those used in the eight newer ASDE-X systems) are available and could be retrofitted into the older ASDE-Xs. Why this is not happening, I cannot understand.

I also learned that ASDE-X and the similar ASSC installed at nine other airports can track ground vehicles that are not equipped with ADS-B. The SMR component of these systems tracks the position and movement of ground vehicles and provides this information to controllers in the tower. It’s still the case, though, that unless the ground vehicle is outfitted with ADS-B, the identity of the vehicle is not known to the controller.

The good news on that score, as several readers informed me, is that about 2100 ground vehicles are outfitted with ADS-B at 33 U.S. airports, per FAA data. Most of these are airport vehicles, with smaller numbers of airline and FAA vehicles. And those ADS-B units use the 978 mHz frequency band, as I suggested, to avoid overloading the much-used 1090 mHz band. It would still be wiser and safer to require all ground vehicles at the airport to be equipped with these ADS-B squitters.

It would make sense for FAA to expand the use of ASSC to all the remaining large and medium hub airports, and to urge or assist all the airports so equipped to add ADS-B squitters to all the ground vehicles operating at those airports.

FAA’s NextGen operation is proposing instead what it calls Runway Incursion Prevention through Situational Awareness (RIPSA). The idea is to use a lower-cost SMR to monitor the runway movement area for anything that should not be there. When it detects such an object, it would turn on runway entrance lights (RELs) at hold-short lines and runway intersections. This would be better than nothing, but any decision to proceed with implementing this instead of ASSC should be based on a careful study comparing the cost and effectiveness of each.

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News Notes

Ireland Separates ATC from Aviation Authority
One of the last Western European countries that kept air traffic control and aviation safety regulation in the same government organization has joined the trend to a self-funded air navigation service provider (ANSP) at arm’s-length from its safety regulator. On May 1, AirNav Ireland became independent of the Irish Aviation Authority and joined the ranks of 21st-century ANSPs. AirNav Ireland handles all air traffic in Irish airspace, including landings and takeoffs from Cork, Dublin, and Shannon airports. Controllers at its North Atlantic Enroute Center in Shannon handle over 90% of the aircraft operating between North America and Europe.

Venice Airport’s Owner Plans €2 Billion Investment
SAVE, which owns the Venice, Italy, airport, has announced a major upgrade of the Marco Polo Airport. The plan will expand its annual passenger capacity from the current 12.5 million to a planned 21 million by 2037. SAVE is owned by individual investor Enrico Marchi (12%) and by two infrastructure investment funds, DWS and InfraVia Capital Partners (at 44% each). SAVE also owns stakes in the airports of Verona and Brescia (3%) as well as Brussels Charleroi airport (48%), according to Inframation.

Ideas for More U.S. Airline Competition
Aviation commentator Gary D. Leff has an article in Discourse magazine outlining policy changes that would expand airline choices for customers. He begins with removing barriers to airport privatization (increasingly common overseas) and converting our air traffic control system to a more-dynamic nonprofit utility. He goes on to suggest removing restrictions on overseas investments in U.S. airlines, as well as opening U.S. airline markets to non-U.S. airlines (known in the trade as cabotage). Leff also suggests taking a fresh look at pilot training requirements and simplifying certification requirements for electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.

Archer About to Test Fly Its Production Model eVTOL
Earlier this month, eVTOL developer Archer rolled out its prototype Midnight eVTOL, the successor to its demonstrator aircraft called Maker. It has shipped the new aircraft to its flight test facility in Salinas, CA, with those flights to begin this summer. Midnight has a range of 100 miles but is intended for shorter air-taxi routes. Its 1,000-pound payload will permit carrying a pilot and up to four passengers (as long as their luggage is not too heavy). The company plans to begin FAA flight tests for certification in 2024, and it hopes to achieve certification in time to begin air taxi service in Chicago in 2025.

Three Companies Plan to Bid for Brazilian Airport
Aena, Fraport, and Vinci Airports are considering bids for the Natal International Airport (Sao Goncalo do Amarante) in Rio Grande do Norte, according to Inframation. On offer is a 30-year P3 concession for the airport. With a minimum bid of only $45 million, and a minimum capital investment of only $61 million, the interest of three major companies reflects a relative shortage of airport acquisition opportunities at this point in time.

Paraguay to Privatize Asuncion Airport
The two leading candidates for president both agreed that the Silvio Pettirossi International Airport in the capital city of Asuncion, Paraguay, will be privatized via a long-term public-private partnership in the coming year. A previous attempt launched in 2015 failed when the winning team’s award was cancelled due to “irregularities” in the procurement process. The public works ministry told Inframation that the state had run the airport inefficiently and that its facilities need upgrading.

Joby to Test Its eVTOLs at Edwards Air Force Base Next Year
The Air Force and Joby Aviation last month announced that its Joby S4 will begin flight tests at Edwards AFB early next year. The project is part of a contract between USAF and Joby under the Agility Prime program of the Air Force Research Laboratory. NASA will also take part, as part of its Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) research program. The Air Force is interested in the eVTOL’s possible use for short-to-mid-range cargo operations at low operating costs.

FAA Agrees to 5G Telecoms Expansion This Summer
Late last month, Acting FAA Administrator Bill Nolen said the agency will not interfere with the agreed-upon July 1 date under which telecommunications companies can increase the power output of 5G towers near airports. Aircraft whose altimeters have not been replaced or shielded against cell-tower interference will not be able to conduct low-visibility approaches to airports after that date. Nolen said that about 7,000 commercial aircraft were still not properly equipped as of April 26. By Feb. 2024, non-retrofitted aircraft will not be allowed to fly.

$1.8 Billion Proposal to Upgrade Manila Airport
Despite the Philippines’ government having opted last year not to privatize the Ninoy Aquino International Airport serving Manila (due to two replacement airport projects under way), the government, in late April, received an unsolicited proposal from a consortium of six domestic companies and U.S.-based Global Infrastructure Partners, an infrastructure investment firm. The P3 proposal, valued at $1.8 billion, includes both an up-front payment to the government and a major investment to improve the airport’s infrastructure.  

U.S. Airport Traffic Nears Full Recovery from Pandemic
Fitch Ratings’ U.S. Airports and Toll Roads Traffic Monitor announced last month that U.S. airports, on average, had recovered 92% of pre-pandemic traffic levels by the end of 2022. But since international travel has not rebounded as fast as domestic travel, major hubs such as Atlanta, Boston, Chicago (ORD), Seattle, and Washington (IAD) were in 80-90% recovery as of year-end.

Virgin Islands Shortlists Four Airport Bidders
The U.S. Virgin Islands selected four out of eight teams as best-qualified to bid for the P3 project to renovate and operate the terminals at the international airports on St. Thomas and St. Croix. The Virgin Islands Port Authority plans to issue its Request for Proposals in June. The contenders will be daa International, Vantage Airport Group, Vinci Airports, and VIPorts Partners.

Millimeter Wave Screening Tested at LAX
During May, Transportation Security Administration checkpoints at Los Angeles International Airport will host a test of a millimeter wave system developed by Liberty Defense Holdings. The HEXWAVE system was to be deployed in the Tom Bradley International Terminal. It is intended to enable passengers to walk through its portal without having to divest normal items such as keys and cell phones.

Boom Supersonic XB-1 Moved to Mojave for Flight Tests
Boom Supersonic’s prototype supersonic transport craft has been moved to the Mojave Airport in California for flight tests. The three-engine, one-third-scale prototype is intended to reach speeds up to Mach 2.2 during these tests. Meanwhile, Boom’s production facility is under construction in Greensboro, NC.

Suspend Slots at DCA Says Ben Baldanza
In an April 24 column on Forbes.com, Ben Baldanza, the former CEO of Spirit Airlines proposes that due to reduced flight activity at Reagan National Airport, its system of landing slots should be suspended, to permit more flights to serve Reagan, giving air travelers more choices. The piece has provoked lively discussions on aviation websites.

Reader Comment on Up-Gauging
Aviation columnist Gary Leff took me to task for some of my comments last issue on the likelihood of airlines “up-gauging” their aircraft at constrained airports such as LaGuardia and Reagan. He noted that while Delta has several sizes of 737s, American does not. On the other hand, JetBlue has smaller E-190s and Airbus A220s that it could replace with larger A320s and A321s. I bow to Gary’s in-depth airline knowledge.

One-Pager on Benefits of Airline Deregulation
My Reason colleague Marc Scribner highlights the key points of his recent policy brief, “Airline deregulation: Past experience and future reforms,” noting the successes and importance of U.S. airline deregulation in a fact-filled one-pager. It’s an excellent summary rebutting claims that airline deregulation has failed.

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Quotable Quotes

“Nolen’s vision will require moving far beyond looking at data from sensors embedded in aircraft. Possibilities include flight tracking services tuned to flag anomalies, such as what Aireon provides the FAA, Boeing, and others. It will also require some insights into human behavior, such as analyzing pilots’ schedules to try and project when a combination of factors—such as fatigue at the end of a long day of flying and operating at a particularly busy or tricky airfield—might heighten risk.”
—Sean Broderick, “FAA’s Nolen: Industry Must Expand ‘Zero Fatalities’ Approach to Incidents,” Aviation Daily, March 29, 2023  

Question (Ben Goldstein): “The Lilium Jet’s practical operating range has been reduced to around 175 km (109 mi.). Does it still make sense to think of the aircraft as a regional mobility platform?”
Answer (Klaus Roewe): “When you look at the potential air shuttle applications in terms of city pairs, what we find is we can fly basically the whole of Florida. [That] is where we plan to build out our first regional network in the U.S. But even here in Germany, if we look at Munich, we see plenty of connections to cities and potential demand from hundreds of thousands of people who can afford flying. And this is just with our current carbon battery at type certification in less than three years. But it’s also important to remember that battery generations take about five years, and the next generation is going to take us much further.”
—Ben Goldstein, “Fast 5: Lilium CEO Klaus Roewe,” Aviation Week, April 10-23, 2023

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