This week, we look at some of the alternatives being offered up by the Think Tanks and consulting firms. Hopefully, we can begin to build the case for the legacy carriers to regain their hold but you decide. As always, I would like all aviators to connect with their roots and one of the ways they can do that is by using the “Third Dimension Blog” as a resource.
“My airplane is quiet, and for a moment still an alien, still a stranger to the ground, I am home.”—Richard Bach “Stranger to the Ground” 1963.
Last week we talked about the two major fixes that need to occur in order for deregulation to be complete. This week I want to highlight three items that a revamped ATC would need to address quickly in order to address the anticipated doubling of daily airline takeoffs and landings that is expected by 2020.
Free flight: We’ve heard a lot of talk but nothing has been implemented on a small or large scale. If you are involved in commercial aviation, I do not have to explain the consequences of zigzagging your way across the country and under free flight that goes away. Direct routing from A to B using satellite-based navigation and other systems will greatly expand the volume of available airspace, but the FAA will not and does not attempt to quantify how soon free flight will be available domestically.
PRM: Certain airports, JFK-BWI-MSP and a few others are not able to run simultaneous approaches in bad weather to parallel runways because of the runway separation. PRM, precision runway monitor, would allow approaches to parallel runways with less than the 4200 feet required while maintaining safety standards. This service is being implemented by the FAA now, but the technology has been in place for years. So, for any of you who might recall being on a gate or airport hold for weather in the Northeast I would assume, like me, you are asking why. I think it can be said that the bureaucracy has only one friend—itself.
Curved approaches: These have been demonstrated in simulation models for years and proven to be safe, but they only now starting to be approved by the FAA for routine operations. It does in fact take the installation of GPS equipment to do this, but I don’t think that the technology driving this bus is cutting edge. It is there, on the shelf, and if the ATC system is converted to a commercial corporation, these types of approaches can be routine in the next five years. It is estimated that this could in fact increase the hourly capacity by 40% or more at airports like LGA and DCA, allowing greater access to these and other airports.
There are certainly more elements involved in the equation, but for now I simply want to spark an interest in you, the reader, to complete the task of knowing where you are going and where your industry is going.
Next week I will wrap up this series and we are going to talk about the RJ, regional jet, and its impact on the future of commercial aviation. So, until then take some time to look back, connect with your past and remember as an aviator you are a “Gatekeeper of the Third Dimension.”
Protect your profession, your future and the future of your fellow aviators.
October 16, 2009