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Next-Gen Air Traffic Control

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Abstract

Over the last few decades, air transportation has increasingly become cheaper and affordable to the majority in our society. In response to this growing demand, air transporters have increased the number of flights to meet this rising demand. However, not all aspects of air transportation have grown with the same speed. Air traffic control, for example, has not improved much from the 1980s, when the industry was still less accessible to the majority. The implication is that the current air traffic control system (ATCS) is riddle with too many limitations. These limitations have seen the air transportation system to become burdensome to both the operators, passengers and other stakeholders in terms of delays, cost, and additional inefficiencies. To mitigate these difficulties, there have been repeated calls to overhaul the system and replace it with an efficient air control system. These repeated calls, have been answered by designing a new “Next-Gen Air Traffic Control system”, which is still in its infancy stage in terms of implementation.

Introduction

The current ATCS has too many drawbacks to meet the current air transportation demands. Cheaper fares in the air industry caused the increase in the number of operators, aircrafts, and passengers in the last few years. The air control system however, has not been modified to grow in tandem with the industry. As such, the transportation system today experiences too many restrains that lead to the air transportation system becoming burdensome to all its stakeholders (Darr, Ricks, Lemos, & Sharon, 2010). This conclusion is reached in terms of flight delays, the system’s capabilities, and inefficiencies in its operations. The current system is technologically limited and outdated in terms of the hi-tech developments available today. In addition, the system has limited capabilities in comparison to the growth, which the air transportation industry has experienced in recent times. This resulted in an increase of flight delays and increased safety risks in air transportation. In terms of communication, navigation, and surveillance operations, the current system still operates using ground based radar systems. This means that operations are significantly slowed and disrupted, making them cumbersome and costly for the air transport operators. The first rule of air control is “safety first”, this means that in severe weather conditions, air control becomes burdensome (Darr, Ricks, Lemos, & Sharon, 2010). The Next-Gen Air Traffic Control was designed to mitigate these difficulties and to replace the existing system.

< style="text-align: justify;">The Next-Gen Air Traffic Control System

The system is designed to overcome limitations experienced by the current system. Through reducing congestion, increasing capabilities as well as accruing benefits to the environment. The system is designed with cability to analyze real time flight details, weather data, and common situations and to display these details to both the controllers and pilots. This means that there will be improved decision making for the controllers and pilots. As such, flight delays will be reduces implying that planes will burn less fuel, reducing the emissions significantly. Among the components of the new system is the Automatic- Dependent- Surveillance- Broadcast (ADS-B) (Lyons, 2011). This system ensures that data message flows continuously in real time between the ground controllers and in-flight crew. ADS-B increases air safety by reducing safe planes separation to minimum. The Next-Gen system is also equipped with automated support tools to enable the system evaluate, predict and plan air – traffic – flow (Lyons, 2011). The system can therefore, reduce delays by evaluating alternative routes and reducing congestions. The systems support tools can also evaluate air control situations and display the information to all its users. It also has a Ground based Augmentation system (GBAS), which has the capability to supports precise landings. This is done by providing pilots and controllers with the GPS information, especially during severe weather conditions, when there is poor visibility. The system also incorporates Vertical Guidance with Localized Performance (LVP) (Nolan, 2011). This means that air safety is enhanced by leveling weather data with satellite based control systems. Meaning that, precise weather data, becomes available to both pilots and controllers. It incorporates real time changes and displays the information to the users, enabling them to make precise adjustment when weather conditions change. In addition, the new system has space based navigation capabilities that permits the aircrafts to use any flight paths covered within the system. This provides improved area navigation and enhanced on board performance, since the system is capable of enabling closer flight path spacing without the necessity of air controllers’ intervention and permits. The aircrafts en routes spacing will become closer, increasing arrivals and departures in a more precise manner.

Closer flight path spacing or closer aircrafts’ en-routes spacing, has direct implications in terms of costs, efficiency and benefits to our environment (Romanovsky & Vardanega, 2011). Efficiency in flight routing means more capaccity, reduced delays and less fuel consumption. By reducing flight times and improving landing precision, safety risks become significantly reduced. In addition, air transportation becomes less costly, in terms of less fuel consumption. This also implies that the system can help in reducing carbon emission and in eliminating unnecessary noise. It is beneficial to the society, in terms of reduced costs and less pollution to the environment. In other words, reducing delays have a direct impact on the amount of fuel spent on air transport operations. This ends up with less operation costs to the flight operators.

that the air transport operations become more efficient. Automated systems also require less human resource to operate and maintain. The Next-Gen Air Traffic Control system can significantly reduce the amount of resources spent in manning air control operations (Nolan, 2011). The result is a substantial cost saving. These costs may be transferred to the society through reduced air transportations charges.

Conclusion

The current ATCS fails to meet the current air transportation demands. Cheaper fares in the air industry caused an increase in the number of operators, aircrafts, and passengers. The air control system, however, has not been modified to grow uniformly with the industry. As such, the transportation system today experiences too many limitations and air transportation system becomes burdensome to its stakeholders. The Next-Gen Air Traffic Control will assist in fighting these difficulties and replacing the existing system. The Next-Gen Air Traffic Control is designed with the capability to analyze real time flight details. The system can therefore analyze such details as, weather data, common situations, and to display these details to both the controllers and pilots. The system is also capable reducing flight delays; this implies that planes will burn less fuel reducing emissions significantly, thus benefitting the environment. Additionally, noise pollution will also be greatly reduced because the planes will spend less time in the air. In addition, operation costs for both the industry and air traffic control will be significantly lowered. These benefits are expected to tickle down to the passengers making air transport more affordable and efficient to the society. Finally, Next-Gen Air Traffic Control system has automated capabilities. Thus, the system is capable of greatly reducing the amount of resources spent in manning air control operations. This implies more costs savings measure for the government, hence lesser burden on the taxpayers. The companies can return the costs to the society through reduced air transportations charges.

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