NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

FAA, Boeing Offer Different, But Compatible, Air Traffic Plans

June 7, 2001

The Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing Co. have laid out separate, futuristic plans to use satellite-based technology to increase capacity and simplify air-traffic management.

How and whether the two proposals could be meshed has yet to be determined. But those familiar with both approaches call them "totally compatible."

  • The FAA predicts it can increase capacity by 30 percent over the next 10 years by taking advantage of technology and procedures that are already being used or developed.
  • The estimated cost to the government of the FAA plan is about $11.5 billion, not including new runways and the substantial investment that carriers would need to make to outfit their fleets with new navigation and communications equipment.
  • Boeing's plan envisions a gradual but radical shift from traditional ground-based air-traffic control to a system that relies on satellites and the sophisticated use of information being beamed from airplanes to controllers.
  • The beamed information would allow controllers to see the trajectory of each aircraft and use that information to predict traffic snarls before they occur.

Boeing formed an air-traffic management unit last year in part because of concerns that a potential $30 billion demand for new airplanes over the next 20 years might be strangled by air-traffic gridlock.

Source: J. Lynn Lunsford and Martha Brannigan, "FAA, Boeing, in Air-Traffic Plans, Stress Satellites," Wall Street Journal, June 7, 2001.

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