Wednesday, April 01, 2009

NextGen vs. Nobody



A good friend of mine at Atlanta Center once called me Don the Baptist. I was the lone voice, crying in the wilderness, on several issues. It seems to be the story of my life. Take NextGen for example.

Do you see anyone standing in the way of NextGen ? Besides me ? And, if the truth be known, when it comes right down to it, I don’t really care. Except for one tiny little point. I don’t like liars.

Seriously. If we want to switch over to an all-GPS navigation system (which we won’t), I don’t care. As long as the people paying for it (that would be the taxpayers) understand that they will have to finance a backup system (probably eLORAN or a minimum number of VORs) too. As long as they understand that a solar storm could knock out the whole system while they’re at 33,000 feet in a thin metal tube, I’m good with that.

I don’t care if the FAA wants to use ADS-B for it’s primary surveillance system. As long as the public understands that they’ll have to pay for the radar surveillance system for the “non-participatory” aircraft too, I can live with it. If they don’t mind having a 500 mph loose cannon (or terrorist) running around in the air while they’re flying, I don’t mind. I don’t fly enough to worry about it.

If you’re wondering what set me off about NextGen today, it was this:

PORT AUTHORITY LEADS NEW ALLIANCE URGING FULL FEDERAL FUNDING TO UNCLOG AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL SYSTEM AND EASE DELAYS FOR PASSENGERS


I was reading the morning news and I ran across a new group -- The National Alliance to Advance NextGen . I followed the trail back to the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. I would be willing to bet there is someone in the background pulling their strings but that is as far back as I can trace it.

Anyway, down towards the bottom of the press release -- after they’ve quoted everybody and their brother (except an air traffic controller) -- they throw in this statement.

”NextGen will reduce air traffic congestion by utilizing satellite communication technology to inform air traffic controllers and pilots of the exact location of aircraft.“

Not in New York it won’t. It might over the Atlantic Ocean. But when they get to New York, the runways will still be as crowded as ever and NextGen will not solve that problem. It’s simple. There is a lot of room for more airplanes in the air. There isn’t on the ground and that is where it counts. I wonder why there is no National Alliance to Build More Runways in New York ? I’m guessing that might be within the Port Authority’s...uh...authority.

But getting back to my point; Who is standing in the way of NextGen ? A nobody like me ? That certainly isn’t holding it up. The controllers can’t stop it (even if they wanted to, which they don’t.) They couldn’t stop “Free Flight”. As a matter of fact, they caved in on that one. I was there when it happened. After all, they can’t even get a contract. So what’s with all the NextGen cheerleading when no one is on the opposing side ?

I mean really, if you take a look at that list of “Members of the Alliance” you see some really big names. ATA, NATA, Air Travelers Association, Cargo Airline Association and on and on. It makes you wonder why they included the Timberman Local #1536. There are only four Google entries for that one and two of them were for the “Alliance”. Hey, I’m really trying to be fair, there are only eight hits on Google for “Timberman Local” -- without the #1536. I didn’t bother going that far with the "Queens Air Services Development Offices". I figure they’re a government outfit and they do what they’re told. I did find it interesting that they too only have four entries on Google. And yes, two of those were generated by the Port Authority’s “Alliance”. It would probably help if the Port Authority would learn to spell.

Queens Air Services Development Office (ASDO)

”ASDO is a not-for-profit organization that brings together aviation industry buyers with local businesses. This unique program, which is funded by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey...“

Don Brown
April 1, 2009

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