Saturday, October 08, 2011

I Guess I Have to Say Something About ERAM



My Google News Alert thing-a-ma-jig went from zero to overflowing in one day. It’s set for “+ERAM +FAA” (ERAM alone leads to some strange places). I guess the Inspector General still knows how to get media attention.

My mailbox also filled up. My readers sent me articles from Business Week to Time. (They’re both the same story -- actually written by Joan Lowy at AP.) Please, don’t anybody take that as a complaint. I’d rather hear about the same story a dozen times than not hear about it all. Thanks to everyone that took the time to make sure I was paying attention.

My problem is what do I say that I haven’t already said?

FAA History Lesson -- February 18 (2008)

”The current effort to rewrite the program is called ERAM -- En Route Automation Modernization. If you don’t have time to keep up will all the going-ons in the FAA but you would still like to get a feel for how things are going -- this is the program to watch. And this is the first thing to watch for.”

Does This Apply to NextGen ? (Oct 23, 2009)

”Don Brown, Ex-controller and current nobody

”No one is going to reinvent air traffic control. ATC evolves. Slowly. The FAA may get their ADS-B system but it won’t replace radar. NextGen is just another sales job like URET. URET saved the airlines so much money they went broke. Did I mention it won’t replace radar ? “”


What I Learned About ERAM (March 30, 2011)

”Before I close, I want to reiterate; ERAM has to work. If the FAA decided to scrap the whole thing tomorrow, they’d have to start over the very next day. It’s that important. It is a monumental undertaking. The pressure to keep this ball rolling is enormous. But so are the consequences if ERAM’s shortcomings cause an accident.”

My knowledge of ERAM isn’t getting any deeper. I’m retired. My knowledge is getting staler. But yet, I still see things that I can comment on with a comfortable certainty. For instance, this blurb at the end of an article in Information Week.

Problems Plague FAA's NextGen Air Traffic Control Upgrade


”By 2018, the FAA estimates that, thanks to NextGen, airlines will see a 35% improvement in delays and save more than a billion gallons of fuel.”

No they won’t. They won’t even come close to that. The only thing that will increase capacity by any significant degree is new runways. The only thing that will decrease delays is proper management of capacity. In other words, if we increase the capacity of the system by 35% (by building new runways) without managing the scheduling of those runways...the airlines will just overschedule them like they do now. There won’t be any reduction of delays. Not to mention, the General Public isn’t being told that NextGen gets its capacity improvements from building runways. They think it’s due to all that fancy hardware they’re paying so much for.

It other words, the FAA is still lying to the people it works for -- the people that pay for it all. You might think “lying” is too strong a word. I don’t. Admittedly, I have a strong feelings about telling the truth.

Don Brown
October 8, 2011

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