Aviation Policy News: FAA reauthorization bill, future of air traffic control, and more
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Aviation Policy Newsletter

Aviation Policy News: FAA reauthorization bill, future of air traffic control, and more

Plus: FAA's slow progress on advanced air mobility, Amsterdam Schiphol vs. its airlines, and more.

In this issue:

Policy Changes for FAA Reauthorization 

With the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) beset by an array of serious problems, both House and Senate aviation subcommittees are offering only plain-vanilla FAA reauthorization bills. And the White House and Department of Transportation (DOT) seem to agree. On June 7, the Biden administration set forth its reauthorization priorities, including increased consumer protections—a ‘passenger bill of rights,’ adding union representatives to advisory bodies, some continued exemptions for drone operations, and a plea for gender-neutral language.

Back in February, the Senate Commerce Committee asked various organizations for ideas on FAA reauthorization, and my colleague Marc Scribner and I submitted 11 pages discussing six policy areas where major changes are needed. Scribner testified before the committee on March 29. Since then, given the growing concerns about the U.S. lag in implementing remote/digital towers, he and I have revised that section of our recommendations for the FAA reauthorization bill. The revised document is now online here is a brief overview of what you will find:

Adoption of Space-Based ADS-B in Non-Radar Airspace
Despite the huge improvements in safety, efficiency, and greenhouse gas emissions due to real-time tracking of flights across the North Atlantic by space-based ADS-B, FAA has yet to subscribe to this service. FAA may point to widespread use of ADS-B in domestic airspace, but what about domestic airspace with no radar surveillance—e.g., the Rocky Mountains or much of Alaska? And what about the vast amount of Pacific oceanic airspace that FAA is responsible for? Our recommendation calls for Congress to direct FAA to implement space-based ADS-B for Pacific oceanic airspace and to enable improved search-and-rescue operations in domestic airspace that lacks radar coverage.

Implementing Remote/Digital Towers
FAA has virtually ignored the 2018 reauthorization act’s Remote Tower Pilot Program provisions and has introduced unprecedented hurdles to implementing first-generation remote towers that use European-certified technology already in use in a growing number of countries. Instead, FAA has begun a project to replace 31 aging brick-and-mortar towers at general aviation airports with 31 “sustainable” brick-and-mortar towers. Our proposal outlines measures Congress could take to redirect the FAA’s course on the future of airport control towers.

Modernizing NOTAM Infrastructure
The current system for notifying flight crews of hazards is obsolete and should have been replaced decades ago. Our recommendation lays out a streamlined approach to replacing it expeditiously rather than risking modernization getting bogged down in FAA’s usual lengthy and costly procurement process. Besides laying out the streamlined process, we recommend that the new NOTAM system be designated as “critical” infrastructure (.99999 availability) rather than “essential” infrastructure (.999 availability).

Reforming Aviation Consumer Protection Authority
The U.S. DOT has long been out of step with other federal agencies (e.g., the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau), which are required to demonstrate that practices judged “unfair” are weighed against countervailing benefits to consumers. This would apply to such proposed changes as new restrictions on airline advertising, ticket refundability, and airline ancillary fees.

Modernizing the Passenger Facility Charge
The passenger facility charge (PFC) has been critically important for airport improvements over the last three decades since Congress first legalized such local airport charges. In particular, PFC revenues are now widely used for debt service on airport revenue bonds. Unlike federal Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants (used mostly for airside projects), PFC revenues are mostly used for airport terminal projects, facilitating airline competition by increasing the number of airport gates. Since the last increase in the federal cap on PFCs two decades ago, the PFC has lost half of its purchasing power. Our proposal is for Congress to remove the statutory cap while requiring airports that charge more than the current $4.50 to forgo 100% of their normal AIP apportionment. This is similar to the bipartisan measure Rep. Peter DeFazio and Rep. Thomas Massie introduced in 2017.

Separating the Air Traffic Organization from the FAA
Aviation experts have long pointed out that locating aviation safety regulation in the same entity as the operator of the air traffic control system is a conflict of interest. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in 2001 called for eliminating this conflict via organizational separation of air navigation service providers (ANSPs) from government aviation safety regulators. The United States is one of the world’s last developed nations that have failed to do this. Reason Foundation’s recommendations for the FAA reauthorization bill sets out a plan for carrying out this reorganization over a three-year period, culminating in new-ATO as a new modal agency within DOT, located outside the Beltway and still funded by the Airport and Airways Trust Fund. Such a reorganization was part of the Clinton administration’s USATs proposal in 1994 and was recommended in a Brookings Institution study in 2008.

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Serious ATC Reform Is Not on This Congress’ Agenda

Several readers reacted positively to last month’s newsletter article, which noted a Bloomberg News editorial headlined “It’s time to privatize air traffic control” and Aviation Week’s recent reference to the subject in an article about FAA’s budget and management problems. While Reason Foundation has long supported this much-needed air traffic control reform, our 2023 FAA reauthorization bill recommendations do not include this major change since it appears unlikely in this Congress. There is no longer an active coalition in favor of converting the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization into a self-funded air navigation service provider (ANSP), more than 60 of which operate in countries around the world today.

In the decade leading up to the air traffic control corporatization bills debated and passed by the House Aviation Subcommittee in the 115th Congress, the reform coalition that supported this effort included:

  • Business Roundtable
  • Airlines for America (A4A)
  • National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA)
  • National Taxpayers Union
  • Former FAA and DOT leaders from both parties
  • All three former Air Traffic Organization chief operating officers
  • Policy analysts at Brookings Institution, Eno Center for Transportation, Reason Foundation, and others

In addition, the idea received editorial endorsements from major newspapers, including the Chicago TribuneMiami HeraldOrlando SentinelWall Street JournalWashington Post, and USA Today.

Today, most veterans of that endeavor have moved on to other things or retired. Many congressional staffers who worked on the bill have also moved on. It would take another coalition of at least that size to have any chance of making such a dramatic change as was contemplated in that 2017 committee bill. Those who fought hard against the change—general aviation and business aviation groups, the FAA Managers Association, operators of small airports, and all federal government unions except NATCA—would likely resume the battle.

The Reason Foundation recommendations noted in the lead article above call for a far more modest step in the current reauthorization: taking the Air Traffic Organization (ATO) out of FAA and making it a separate modal agency of DOT. That step makes sense on safety grounds and would offer the potential of leading to a more entrepreneurial organizational culture within ATO. It might also change that culture to be more focused on pleasing its aviation customers than focusing on Congress.

To prepare any future coalition for what it might be up against, I have written a primer on converting a traditional government air traffic control provider into a user-funded ATC utility, whether government-owned, nonprofit private, or for-profit corporation. It recounts the origins of the air traffic control utility idea, explores various attempts starting with the Clinton administration, and explores the last-decade coalition and its battles with defenders of the status quo. “Air Traffic Control as a Public Utility” is online here.

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Amsterdam Schiphol vs. Its Airlines

In an unexpected announcement on April 4, Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, one of the largest hub airports in Europe, announced significant cuts in capacity. In the name of reducing noise impacts on airport neighbors, it said it would abandon plans for an additional runway, ban private jets, and reduce annual flights to 440,000. Stunned airlines, including KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, whose major hub is at Schiphol, objected strongly, as did other airlines using the airport, including KLM partner Delta Air Lines, EasyJet, Corendon, and TUI, which jointly appealed the decision. A Dutch court quickly ruled that the plan to cut noise does not abide by E.U. rules. The government promised to appeal that ruling.

The E.U. rule in question is called the Balanced Approach procedure. Governments seeking to impose noise restrictions on an airport with more than 50,000 aircraft movements per year must set a specific goal and then work with its airlines to identify and assess those measures, following a four-step process. International Air Transport Association (IATA) Director General Willie Walsh told attendees at IATA’s 79th annual meeting that, “There is no precedent for a methodology like [what Schiphol proposed],” and, “Ignoring the rules-based order established by global standards is a slippery slope that we airlines can ill-afford.”

As aviation commentator Andrew Charlton put it in Aviation Intelligence Reporter’s April 2023 issue, “The sustainability debate is a Trojan Horse for aviation…Sustainability allows all sorts of people into discussions that were once the exclusive domain of civil aviation experts and regulators. It is that precedent as much as anything else that IATA is objecting to.”

By the way, on airport noise IATA and E.U. regulators should take a look at the U.K. Both London Heathrow (LHR) and London Gatwick (LGW) have long used differential runway pricing to discourage noisier aircraft—and it seems to have worked.  

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FAA’s Slow Progress on Advanced Air Mobility
By Marc Scribner

Urban air mobility (UAM), and more broadly advanced air mobility (AAM), remains in its infancy. Developers such as Joby and Archer are still testing their novel air taxis and don’t plan to bring them into service for at least a few years. The Federal Aviation Administration has recently taken some initial first steps on UAM/AAM, and Congress’s forthcoming FAA reauthorization orders additional actions from the agency, but there are still numerous unanswered questions related to airspace integration.

In early May, FAA released its UAM Concept of Operations (ConOps) 2.0, more than a year behind schedule. This follows the UAM ConOps 1.0 that was released in July 2020. FAA’s revised UAM operational blueprint describes a “crawl-walk-run approach” to integrating UAM operations into U.S. airspace. Novel UAM aircraft and services will initially be approved to operate within the legacy regulatory environment with human pilots as the regulatory framework is adapted to permit higher-frequency operations—first by onboard pilots in command within limited UAM corridors and then in corridor networks with remote pilots and autonomous aircraft.

FAA anticipates initial UAM operations involving new electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) and distributed electric propulsion (DEP) aircraft will take place within point-to-point corridors between vertiports under conventional visual and instrument flight rules. As operational frequencies and complexity increase, FAA plans to adopt a federated service network similar to what it has discussed for UAS traffic management (UTM) for small drones. FAA would retain core regulatory and airspace operational authority but devolve UAM airspace operations organization, coordination, and management to industry “Providers of Services for UAM (PSUs)” (see the Figure 8 diagram on page 24 of the UTM ConOps 2.0 for FAA’s vision).

This raises important questions about how FAA will lay the groundwork for the federated PSUs, such as how FAA will determine the selection of UAM corridors and the PSUs that manage operations within the corridors.

One interesting idea is to apply market mechanisms to UAM corridor allocation through airspace auctions, which has been advocated by the Mercatus Center’s Brent Skorup. He argues that adopting time-limited exclusive-use licenses for UAM corridors much like the Federal Communications Commission does for radio spectrum would encourage allocating airspace corridors to their highest and best use, as well as provide certainty to operators that must incur substantial, risky capital investments.

The latest ConOps does not mention airspace markets, but FAA would be wise to consider them in future iterations. In a presentation last month at the Transportation Research Board’s National Aviation System Planning Symposium, Skorup noted that the potential for UAM/AAM airspace auctions received a favorable write-up in a 2022 paper from MIT researchers. NASA also indicated in its March 2023 UAM Airspace Research Roadmap that it plans to investigate the viability of airspace markets to solve allocation problems.

FAA’s UTM ConOps isn’t regulatory, but it is widely seen as a necessary building block for future airspace integration activities that will carry the force of law. With respect to UAM/AAM regulations, FAA changed course last year and decided that airworthiness certifications must take place under its “powered-lift” category rather than Part 23 rules for normal airplanes, which was discussed in the June 2022 issue of this newsletter. UTM/AAM aircraft will be type certificated as powered-lift aircraft under the special class process (14 CFR § 21.17(b)), which allows FAA to address design peculiarities with specific airworthiness criteria for each UAM/AAM aircraft.

This type approval change also necessitated modifications to operational rules because the existing operations regulations did not apply to powered-lift aircraft. The proposed amendments on pilot certification and operating requirements were published on June 14, five months later than FAA had estimated. FAA’s abrupt change on UAM/AAM certification caused leading developer Joby to push back its anticipated deployment date from 2024 to 2025 as it awaits a final decision from FAA on its proposed airworthiness criteria. As a result, U.S. regulators now appear to be at least a couple years behind their European counterparts at EASA.

In both the House and Senate versions of FAA reauthorization that were introduced earlier this month, Congress calls on FAA to undertake a number of actions related to standardized certification of UAM/AAM aircraft and supporting infrastructure such as vertiports. However, despite Congress’s apparent interest in the topic, FAA will still have a great deal of discretion in how and when to meet these statutory requirements, which Congress rarely enforces in any meaningful way. Given the slow pace at FAA with respect to UAM/AAM, Congress can likely do the most good by conducting regular and rigorous oversight of FAA’s activities, as well as closely monitoring similar efforts abroad.

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Autonomy on the Flight Deck?

Will autonomy be extended to the flight decks of commercial airliners? To most people the idea of only one or perhaps zero crew members in an airliner’s cockpit sounds frightening. We all remember ‘the Miracle on the Hudson,’ when a pilot’s skillful water landing saved everyone on board a U.S. Airways plane that had lost both engines on climb-out from LaGuardia due to a bird strike.

Because a great deal of technology development is taking place for single-pilot or no-pilot operation, the world’s three largest pilot unions (ALPA, ECA, and IFALPA) have mounted a campaign against “reduced-crew operations” as a slippery slope that must be stopped before it goes too far. They can cite examples of pilots saving the day in dire circumstances, and also the small but real threat of suicidal pilots. The three groups announced their campaign at an International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations conference in Montreal last month. And their March op-ed, “Removing Airline Pilots from the Flight Deck Is a Gamble with Safety” appeared in Aviation Daily.

Today’s two-person cockpit on domestic flights is the result of ever-improving technology. In the early years after World War II, the cockpit crew could be as many as five: captain, first officer, flight engineer, navigator, and radio operator. By the time I was about to head off to college in the early 1960s, domestic airliners had only two pilots and a flight engineer. The newest jetliners being ordered then did not need a flight engineer, but Eastern’s flight engineers went on strike aiming to require continued employment of their members (including the father of my best friend in high school). They lost. So today’s question is whether technology has advanced to the point where single-pilot or no-pilot operation could be safe.

My answer was no, until several years ago when Garmin’s emergency auto-land system was certified by FAA for use on single-pilot general aviation planes. In the event the pilot becomes incapacitated and no passenger has any piloting experience, a passenger can press one button and the system contacts air traffic control, identifies the nearest suitable airport, flies the plane to it, lands it, and taxis it to a safe place for passengers to disembark. That successful innovation opened many people’s eyes to the potential of single-pilot or no-pilot operation.

Europe seems to be well ahead of the United States in research and development of single-pilot technology. Airbus ran a two-year project called Autonomous Taxi, Take-off, and Landing (ATTOL), which finished in mid-2020. It demonstrated fully automated operations using onboard image recognition in an A-350 wide-body airliner. The follow-on project is called DragonFly, aiming to demonstrate automated operations under any environmental conditions. It has added the capability to select an emergency diversion airport, taking into account weather, flight zones, terrain, etc.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has issued a concept paper on the use of artificial intelligence for autonomous flight operations. Already in both EASA and FAA certification process is an AI-based visual landing system (VLS) developed by Swiss startup company Daedalean. The first planned product to use that technology is called PilotEye, to be offered by avionics company Avidyne.

Zero-pilot operations are, of course, planned by eVTOL developer Wisk from the get-go, and are in the longer-range plans of many of the other eVTOL startups such as Archer, Joby, and Lilium. But much closer to being operational are projects being developed for conventional take-off and landing cargo aircraft. U.S. startup company Merlin plans zero-pilot cargo flights on routes in Alaska, using converted Cessna Caravan aircraft, under a $1 million FAA contract. It is working on obtaining a supplemental type certificate for its automated Caravans. The cargo flights will be carried out in conjunction with the University of Alaska-Fairbanks UAS test site and cargo airline Everts Air Cargo. These flights will have a human pilot in the cockpit (akin to safety drivers in autonomous cars and trucks) for these test flights. But all operations will be carried out by the Merlin Pilot automation. Another U.S. startup is Xwing, which has its own Superpilot automation system installed in a Cessna Grand Caravan. It is currently seeking FAA certification.

In Europe, London-based startup Droneamics has developed a remote-pilot automation system, installed in a purpose-built cargo drone aircraft called Black Swan. It obtained E.U. certification from the Transport Malta Civil Aviation Directorate in May 2022. The company’s aim is to fly cargo between E.U. cities, operating from existing airports and in controlled airspace.

I see these cargo-only, fixed-wing, conventional take-off and landing startups as the likely leading edge toward zero-pilot operations. And what Airbus is testing may well be viable for reduced-pilot operations of large airliners, perhaps with a remote pilot on the ground monitoring some number of single-pilot flights. Just as technology made flight engineers obsolete, it may well succeed in enabling increased automation for cargo and passenger airlines.

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News Notes

Austin Airport Settles with P3 Terminal Developer
In 2016, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) signed a 40-year public-private partnership (P3) deal with LoneStar Airport Holdings to renovate and operate the airport’s auxiliary terminal serving low-cost carriers, including Allegiant and Frontier. Last year the airport began eminent domain proceedings against LoneStar so that it could seize and demolish the terminal, to make way for a major expansion of its main terminal. LoneStar filed suit, arguing a breach of its long-term lease agreement. On June 1, the city of Austin announced a settlement, under which it will pay LoneStar $88 million for early termination of the agreement. Austin will keep the auxiliary terminal in operation for low-cost carriers until it is ready to begin demolition for the terminal expansion project.

Boeing Acquires eVTOL Startup Wisk
Aviation Daily reported that Boeing’s acquisition of 100% of Wisk was motivated by acquiring ownership of Wisk’s autonomy technology. Boeing began its partnership with predecessor Kitty Hawk in 2019 as a joint venture called Wisk. Following the current acquisition, Wisk is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Boeing. Its current CEO, Brian Yutko, was formerly Boeing’s chief engineer for sustainability and future mobility. Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun announced that autonomous technology will be a key element in the company’s next all-new airliner.

Philippines Says Manila Airport Could Be Privatized by Early 2024
In response to an unsolicited P3 proposal valued at $1.8 billion, the undersecretary for aviation and airports of the Philippines told Business World that Ninoy Aquino International Airport could be privatized by first-quarter 2024. The consortium comprises six development companies and infrastructure investment fund Global Infrastructure Partners. The government had previously said that it would entertain only proposals for contract management of the airport, given the existence of plans and projects to develop alternative airports in the greater Manila area. It’s not clear why its policy is changing.

French Officials Deciding the Future of Nantes Atlantique Airport P3
A P3 concession to expand and modernize the Nantes Atlantique Airport in France is expected to be decided this month. A €450 million project to refurbish its terminal and lengthen its runway ended up receiving only one final offer, from incumbent operator Vinci Airports, despite several competitors having expressed prior interest, reports Inframation. The competition for the project was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Leading eVTOL Developers Raising New Money
Several eVTOL developers that have been rated as most likely to succeed are in the process of raising additional funding, reported Aviation Week (May 22-June 4 issue). Best-funded Joby Aviation received an additional $180 million from investment company Baillie Gifford, while Germany’s Lilium landed $175 million from Chinese company Tencent. And Archer Aviation has received $150 million from automaker Stellantis, which has an agreement to manufacture Archer eVTOLs. Reporters Graham Warwick and Ben Goldstein also report on other startups, some of which are still seeking additional investors.

New Dominican Republic Airport Will be a P3
The planned Cabo Rojo International Airport will be developed as a long-term P3 concession, reported Inframation (May 30). In May the project received environmental clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources. The tourism-focused airport will include a two-story terminal building, a 10,000 foot runway, control tower, heliport, cargo terminal, powerplant, water treatment plant, parking lots, and perimeter fencing. The project is estimated to require a $2.2 billion investment.

French Rail/Air Shift May Imperil Travelers
A decree published May 23 officially bans domestic airline flights on routes for which rail service of no more than 2.5 hours is available. Initially, the affected routes are between Paris Orly and the cities of Bordeaux, Lyon, and Nantes. Economist Veronique de Rugy points out in a recent commentary that many of those who would have flown may opt to drive instead. Driving not only uses more fuel per passenger mile than passenger rail or air travel; it is also far more dangerous than flying. She notes a recent Harvard University study that in the United States, Europe, and Australia the odds of being killed on a plane trip are one in 11 million, compared with one in 5,000 for driving.

AENA Pays $498 Million Up-front for Brazil Airports P3
As the winner of a 30-year concession for a major airport in Sao Paulo and 10 provincial airports, AENA’s Brazilian division is required to pay nearly half a billion dollars up-front (in addition to various capital improvements at the airports during the term of the concession). After its original plan to finance half of the up-front fee got delayed, the company decided to pay it all in cash, as Inframation reported on June 7. The decision was made in order to comply with AENA’s development schedule for the airports.

JetBlue Plans to Divest Spirit’s LGA Operation if Merger Approved
Aviation Daily reports that if JetBlue’s planned acquisition of Spirit Airlines survives a Justice Department challenge, it will give Spirit’s operations at LaGuardia to Frontier Airlines. Frontier’s CEO, who already sees the merger as expanding its ultra low-cost-carrier market, told the newsletter that the 22 flights a day at LGA would make a big difference to its operations. The transfer of Spirit’s LaGuardia slots would require approval from the U.S. DOT, FAA, and Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which operates LaGuardia. JetBlue’s appeal of the Justice Department’s disapproval of the merger goes to trial in October.

ACI-Europe Says European Airports Compete
European airlines refer to the continents’ airports as monopolies requiring regulation. Airports Council International-Europe last year commissioned a study from Frontier Economics that provides evidence for airport competition for airline service and examples of how airports market themselves to airlines. Among the interesting points in the study is the dramatic decline in the number of airlines serving European routes since 2002—from 22 down to five today. The ACI summary of the study is “Fierce Competitors, Fragile Foes: Competition Between Airports in Europe.

FAA’s Secondary Cockpit Barrier Rule
Democratic U.S. Senators Bob Casey (Pa.), John Fetterman (Pa.), and Ed Markey (Mass.) have asked FAA Acting Administrator Billy Nolen for an update on the provision in the 2018 FAA reauthorization law that requires the installation of secondary cockpit barriers on commercial airliners. The comment period on FAA’s proposed rule closed in Sept. 2022, and nothing had been heard of it since then. On June 14, FAA belatedly announced that its final rule to require secondary barriers on all new airliners will become final 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

FAA Funds Only Minor Airfield Improvements
In response to this year’s spike in runway incursions, last month FAA awarded grants totaling $100 million to 12 airports for modest improvements (e.g., to taxiways). None of the grants would add collision-avoidance ASDE-X to any airport. Of the five largest airports getting grants (Miami, Las Vegas, San Diego, San Jose, and Tucson), the only first three already have ASDE-X. (The other seven are small airports like Pensacola and Prescott.) Notably absent from the list is Austin (AUS), where the most serious near-collision occurred; it is not equipped with ASDE-X.

Aireon and Cirium Expand Data Partnership
Aviation analytics company Cirium has expanded its long-term data partnership with space-based ADS-B provider Aireon. Cirium will provide data on aircraft positions, by aircraft I.D. and flight number to provide customers with data for post-flight analysis.

Indra Updating ATC Centers in Central America
The entity that provides upper airspace air traffic management for all Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua (COCESNA) has signed a contract with Indra to upgrade the network of nine high-altitude control centers with new software and digital communications. The modernized system will enable one center to take over the operations of a center that experiences trouble. The contract is for €24.6 million.

TSA Facial Recognition Technology Still Raises Questions
In a May 18 Reason.com piece, William Rampe discusses the Transportation Security Administration’s trial rollout of facial recognition technology at 16 major airports. Concerns about bias, privacy, and data security are still being raised.

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Quotable Quotes

“You know the current [ATC] system is broken with the controllers are arguing that we need significant reform. There are a number of factors coming together at the moment. Not least of them is the publication by IFATCA, the controllers’ unions’ umbrella organization, of an interactive map of up-coming shortfalls in controller numbers in Europe. The bottom line is that within ten years, perhaps as soon as five years from now, we are going to hit a huge problem. There will not be enough controllers in certain areas of Europe. That is not the same as there being not enough controllers, but the current system will not allow for the sensible reallocation of capacity to demand. . . . What to do? The obvious solution is to rush to train more controllers . . .but it is wrong. First, there is not much time. It takes a good five years to train and give relevant experience to a controller to take over complex airspaces . . . . Second, what do we train them on? All we can train the on: the current systems. That will merely concrete-in the current inefficiencies and existing technologies.”
—Andrew Charlton, “Interoperability: The Cuckoo in the Nest,” Aviation Intelligence Reporter, May 2023

“Look at the airliners that we fly in every day. They don’t yet take off by themselves. They don’t taxi by themselves. But once they’ve taken off, they’ll do the entire flight by themselves, and they will land by themselves if you wanted them to. Airplanes have been doing this for years. Adding in the ability to divert and redo a flight plan because of an emergency or whatever, communicating with air traffic control, those are the next pieces. But the basics are already there.”
—Stephane Fymat (Honeywell), in Suzanne Rowan Kelleher, “No Pilot, No Problem? Here’s How Soon Self-Flying Planes Will Take Off,” Forbes.com, Feb. 26, 2003

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