Current air traffic management systems are based on procedures that were developed in the 1950s. Many of the ground rules for the procedures are no longer valid as new technologies have been introduced. Unlike the first generation of modern aircraft, introduced over five decades ago, modern commercial airplanes are designed to determine their positions with pinpoint accuracy. In fact, new airplanes can determine their position to within less than a meter. New methods for gathering and sharing data and cutting edge systems for trajectory calculation, coupled with upgraded airport infrastructure and other tools on the ground and in the air, allow for more efficient management of air traffic while maintaining and even enhancing safety levels.
Many benefits would result from modernization of air traffic management (ATM) systems. As stated on the section of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s website addressing the Next Generation Air Transportation System (Next Gen):
“When fully implemented, NextGen will safely allow more aircraft to fly more closely together on more direct routes, reducing delays, and providing unprecedented benefits for the environment and the economy through reductions in carbon emissions, fuel consumption, and noise.”
Modernization of air traffic management (ATM) systems can be a major factor in reducing aviation CO2 emissions. If the aviation industry can reduce every flight’s duration by just one minute, it would prevent 4.8 millions tons of CO2 emissions each year.
Improvements to the ATM system need to take advantage of the advancements made in airplane capabilities, precision data, communications and network sharing technologies. ATM modernization is a complex issue requiring the active collaboration of many stakeholders. ATM success also relies upon global harmonization of systems and operations. Because airplanes fly all over the world, ATM procedures and requirements need to work similarly across national and regional boundaries. TIACA believes global interoperability is a key component of success.