Saturday, May 14, 2011

Recent History Lesson



While researching a future blog on ERAM, I came across a most interesting document. My Facebook fans know that I spent yesterday watching a Senate hearing. You can start adding 1+1 if you’d like. My regular readers know that the trash gets thrown out on Friday. I think I’ll wait until Monday to run the blog. Maybe Sunday night. We’ll see.

In the meantime, here’s something to browse.

THE FUTURE OF AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL: THE R&D AGENDA
HEARING BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON SPACE AND AERONAUTICS
COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE -- HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED NINTH CONGRESS -- SECOND SESSION

MARCH 29, 2006



In case you don’t remember who was in charge of the “ONE HUNDRED NINTH CONGRESS”...

And a couple of acronym explanations to get you started:

JPDO -- “Joint Planning and Development Office
NGATS -- “Next Generation Air Transportation System” (aka NextGen)

Quotes that caught my attention...

” In 2003, the Congress created the Joint Planning and Development Office as part of the Vision 100--Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act. This committee played a leading role in creating the JPDO and charged it with coordinating the design, research and implementation of a new air traffic control system that will, in the next 20 years, triple our nation's current capacity”

”Answers to Post-Hearing Questions Responses by S. Michael Hudson, Chairman, Committee on Technology Pathways, Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences, National Research Council, The National Academies

Questions submitted by Representative Mark Udall

Q (question)5. What specific roles are human factors R&D and training playing in the design of the NGATS, and how important are they to the overall success of the NGATS?”

A(Answer)5. The committee felt that human factors research was very important to the NGATS. From the report: ...System designers must resist the temptation to provide more automated features and give more information to system operators just because they can; more automation does not always increase safety or reliability, and more information does not always improve situational awareness or operational decisions.''


”Questions submitted by Representative Jim Costa

Answers to Post-Hearing Questions Responses by David A. Dobbs, Assistant Inspector General for Aviation and Special Program Audits, U.S. Department of Transportation


Q1. Does the JPDO believe that the Next Generation Air Transportation
System (NGATS) will be able to handle three times today's traffic if
the Nation's major airports are not modernized as well?

A1. Without question, continued airport investments will be essential
to meet the forecasted demand for air travel. In fact, the JPDO has one
IPT focused specifically on airports. Also, NGATS as envisioned by the
JPDO takes other FAA plans such as the ``Flight Plan'' and `Operational Evolution Plan'' into consideration. Both plans emphasize the importance of continued airport development. The major thrust of NGATS is to use a combination of things--new automation, new procedures, better weather information, and advanced avionics--to meet the anticipated demand for air travel. We note that non-hub airports are also expected to play an important role in enhancing capacity.”


”Q3. Keeping in mind that nearly all of today's delays are due to
severe weather, runway limitations, and over scheduling: Is it reasonable for us to believe that the billions of dollars the JPDOs proposals are sure to cost in the implementation of the NGATS will solve the delay problems we already face today?

A3. While it is reasonable to believe that JPDO initiatives will help mitigate delays, it is hard to imagine that they can be totally eliminated.

... It is difficult, if not impossible, to determine if JPDO plans will be cost effective in meeting the delay problem because of the large number of unknowns. For example, it is unclear how much NGATS will cost. ”


” Answers to Post-Hearing Questions Responses by Gerald L. Dillingham, Director, Physical Infrastructure Issues, Government Accountability Office

Question submitted by Representative Sheila Jackson Lee

Q1. What is the reason for the lack of participation of the air
traffic controllers in the activities of the JPDO, and what is the
impact of their lack of participation?

A1. Our research showed that the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) initially assigned a controller to JPDO as part of its liaison program with the FAA. On June 28, 2005, FAA notified NATCA that it was terminating the liaison assignments effective July 29, 2005, citing budget constraints and the implementation of the ATO. The controller who had been acting as the liaison within JPDO's Agile Air Traffic System IPT was among the controllers who returned to his facility. Since that time, no active controller has participated in the NGATS planning effort of JPDO.

...In particular, the participation of current air traffic controllers is important because NGATS will likely involve major technological and operational changes that will affect their work. Our work on FAA's current air traffic control modernization program has shown that without early and continuing stakeholder input, costly rework and delays can occur late in system development."


There’s enough there to keep you busy all weekend. It’s hard for young people to appreciate history -- they’ve seen so little of it. Nothing stays a secret forever. Sooner or later, word slips out. Especially now, with the internet, if you want to find out what happened, you can. Things may not become common knowledge but they don’t remain secret.

Everything that is being done with ERAM right now is going to become public -- sooner or later. It’s something for you to keep in mind.

Don Brown
May 14, 2011

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