US Airlines Essay Research Paper Deregulation of

US Airlines Essay, Research Paper Deregulation of the U.S. airline industry has resulted in ticket prices dropping by a third, on an inflation-adjusted basis. As a result some 1.6 million people

US Airlines Essay, Research Paper

Deregulation of the U.S. airline industry has resulted in ticket prices dropping

by a third, on an inflation-adjusted basis. As a result some 1.6 million people

fly on 4,000 aircraft every day. Airlines carried 643 million passengers in

1998, a 25% increase over 1993 and the FAA estimates that the nation??s

airline system will have to accommodate 917 million passengers by the year 2008.

The growth in air travel threatens to overwhelm the presently inadequate air

traffic control system, which has not kept pace with available technology in

navigation, communications, and flight surveillance. Much of the equipment used

for air traffic control today is based on fifty-year-old technology; for

example, analog simplex voice links for communications and ground-based radar

for surveillance, and VHF Omnidirectional Range/Distance Measuring Equipment (VOR/DME)

for navigation. The lack of system automation imposes heavy workloads on human

air traffic controllers and increases the risk of accidents in heavy traffic

situations. Capacity limits are being reached in both airports and airspace,

with congestion delays in departure and arrival schedules reaching record

numbers. Funds to upgrade the air traffic control system are available in the

trust fund created to receive the tax applied to airline passenger tickets and

the tax on fuel for general aviation. The General Accounting Office says

modernizing the air traffic control system will cost at least 17 billion for

just the first 5 years of the FAA??s 15-year National Airspace System

improvement plan. It is the NAS that provides the services and infrastructure

for air transportation. Air transportation represents 6% of the Nation??s

gross domestic product, so the NAS is a critical element of our national

economy. Given the size of the NAS, the task ahead is enormous. Our NAS includes

more than 18,300 airports, 21 air route traffic control centers, over 460 air

traffic control towers and 75 flight service stations, and approximately 4,500

air navigation facilities. The NAS spans the country, extends into the oceans,

and interfaces with neighboring air traffic control systems for international

flights. The NAS relies on approximately 30,000 FAA employees to provide air

traffic control, flight service, security, and field maintenance services. More

than 616,000 active pilots operating over 280,000 commercial, regional, general

aviation and military aircraft use the NAS. On March 11, 1999, the FAA released

the NAS Architecture Version 4.0 to the public. Key influences on the

architecture include the 1996 White House Commission on Aviation Safety and

Security, which recommended that the FAA accelerate modernization of the NAS,

and the 1997 National Civil Aviation Review Commission, which recommended

funding and performance management methods for implementing NAS modernization.

It describes the agency??s modernization strategy from 1998 through 2015.

Based on the Free Flight operational concept, Version 4.0 contains capabilities,

technologies, and systems to enhance the safety of the aviation system and

provide users and service providers with more efficient services. Free Flight

centers on allowing pilots, whenever practical, to choose the optimum flight

profile. This concept of operations is expected to decrease user costs, improve

airspace flexibility, and remove flight restrictions. The NAS Architecture is

divided into three modernization phases and its implementation is being

synchronized with the International Civil Aviation Organization to ensure

interoperability and global integration. ?h Phase 1 (1998-2002) focuses on

sustaining essential air traffic control services and delivering early user

benefits. Free Flight Phase 1 will be implemented. Controller computer

workstations will begin major upgrades. Satellite-based navigation systems will

be deployed, and air-to-air surveillance will be introduced. The ??Year 2000??

computer problem will hopefully be fixed. ?h Phase 2 (2003-2007) concentrates

on deploying the next generation of communications, navigation and surveillance

(CNS) equipment and the automation upgrades necessary to accommodate new CNS

capabilities. Satellite-based navigation systems will be further augmented in

local areas for more precise approaches. New digital radios that maximize the

spectrum channels will be installed. As users equip, automatic dependent

surveillance ground equipment will be installed to extend air traffic control

surveillance services to non-radar areas. Tools from Phase 1 will be deployed

throughout the NAS and upgraded as necessary. ?h Phase 3 (2008-2015) completes

the required infrastructure and integration of automation advancements with the

new CNS technologies, enabling additional Free Flight capabilities throughout

the NAS. Two important features will be NAS-wide information sharing among users

and service providers and ??four-dimensional?? flight profiles that utilize

longitudinal and lateral positions and trajectories as a function of time. The

goals for modernizing the NAS are based on improving: ?h Safety ?V such as

better weather information in the cockpit and on controller displays. ?h

Accessibility ?V such as instrument approaches to many more airports. ?h

Flexibility ?V such as allowing users to select and fly desired routes. ?h

Predictability ?V such as meeting flight schedules even in adverse weather

conditions. ?h Capacity ?V such as increasing aircraft arrival rates to

airports. ?h Efficiency ?V such as saving fuel by reducing taxing times

to/from the runways. ?h Security ?V such as controlling access to facilities

and critical information systems. The NAS Architecture is essential to the FAA

and the aviation community because it provides the most detailed guide ever for

planning operations and making NAS-related investment decisions. The Blueprint

and Version 4.0 will be updated in response to changing needs, research results,

new technology, and funding. NAS modernization involves providing new systems to

enhance capabilities and services for users. Modernization also includes making

the critical infrastructure of air traffic control services easier and more

cost-effective to operate and maintain. Critical infrastructure includes: ?h

Communications, navigation/landing and radar surveillance systems ?h Weather

detection and reporting equipment ?h Air traffic control computers and

displays for controllers ?h Power generation and backup systems ?h Air

traffic control facilities sustainment Here is a brief summary of key NAS

systems/capabilities and their architectural improvements: Communications

Aviation communications systems will be upgraded, integrating systems into a

seamless network using digital technology for voice and data. During the

transition, the FAA will continue to support analog voice communications. A

major improvement will be controller-pilot data link communications (CPDLC),

which introduces electronic data exchange between controllers and the cockpit

and reduces voice-channel congestion. Navigation Over the next 10 years, the

navigation system is expected to use satellites augmented by ground monitoring

stations to provide navigation signal coverage throughout the NAS. Reliance on

ground-based navigation aids is expected to decline as satellite navigation

provides equivalent levels of service. The transition to satellite-based

navigation consists of: ?h Use of the global positioning system (GPS) as a

supplemental system for en route navigation and non-precision approaches. ?h

Deployment of the wide area augmentation system (WAAS) to augment GPS for

primary means en route navigation and precision approaches. WAAS will be

deployed in stages by adding ground reference stations, with operational

capability improving in each stage. ?h Deployment of a local area augmentation

system (LAAS) to augment GPS for precision approaches in low visibility

conditions. Surveillance Surveillance in the future NAS will provide increased

coverage in non-radar areas and includes aircraft-to-aircraft capabilities for

greater situation awareness. The NAS Architecture calls for gradual transition

from current radar systems to digital radar and automatic dependent surveillance

(ADS). Aviation Weather The NAS Architecture contains improved ways to collect,

process, transmit, and display weather information to users and providers,

during flight planning and in flight. The goal is to give NAS providers and

users depictions of weather information and provide more weather data in the

cockpit to enhance common situation awareness. Avionics Avionics will evolve to

take advantage of new communications, navigation, and surveillance-related

technologies in the NAS Architecture, including: ?h New multi-mode digital

radios for voice and data communications among pilots, controllers and various

ground facilities. ?h Digital communications technology that increases

available voice channel capacity and provides a data link which enables

instructions, flight information services, and graphical weather data to be sent

directly to the cockpit. Free Flight Phase 1 New tools that give controllers,

planners and service operators more complete information about air traffic

control and flight operations comprise a large part of the NAS Architecture??s

near-term plan. Some of these tools are embodied in a program called Free Flight

Phase 1 Select Capability/Limited Deployment. The Free Flight 1 tools are: ?h

User request evaluation tool/core capability limited deployment (URET CCLD) ?V

an automated tool that assists en route controllers in identifying conflicts up

to 20 minutes in advance of their occurrence. ?h Traffic management advisor (TMA)

single center ?V an automated tool that assists en route radar controllers with

sequencing aircraft to terminal areas. ?h Passive final approach spacing tool

(pFAST) ?V an automated tool designed to work in conjunction with TMA to help

controllers assign runways and sequence aircraft according to user preferences

and airport capacity. ?h Collaborative decision-making (CDM) ?V a real-time

exchange of flight plan and system constraints data between the FAA and airline

operations centers in order to work collaboratively to better manage NAS

traffic. ?h Surface movement advisor (SMA) ?V a system that provides

information sharing to airline and airport personnel who plan and manage the

sequence of taxi out and plan for arrivals in the ramp and gate areas at larger

airports. Automation Infrastructure Free Flight Phase 1 tools and other future

tools depend on infrastructure improvements already underway, such as the

display system replacement (DSR), standard terminal automation replacement

system (STARS) and host/oceanic computer system replacement (HOCSR), to operate.

DSR provides new controller workstations and a network infrastructure for the

air route traffic control centers (ARTCC). DSR has the capability to show

weather data from the next generation weather radar. STARS is the new terminal

workstation that will interface with the new sequencing and spacing tools and

the advanced communications, navigation, surveillance and weather systems. HOCSR

replaces the host and oceanic processors and peripherals at the ARTCCs to solve

immediate hardware supportability problems. Since the early 1980s, efforts by

the FAA to modernize the air traffic control system have experienced lengthy

schedule delays and substantial cost overruns. There is a belief held by many

that the above procurement and personnel reforms, while useful, are not likely

to change the FAA??s bureaucratic corporate culture. And they do not address

the inherent problems of the ATC system being part of the federal budget

process, subject to external micromanagement, and subject to a conflict of

interest between safety regulation and ATC operations. They believe the United

States should follow the example of Britain, Germany, Switzerland and most

recently, Canada, in fundamentally restructuring air traffic control. It is

their opinion that a not-for-profit user-controlled, user-funded corporation is

the best way to address the ATC system??s fundamental problems. We find

ourselves with a system that currently runs on obsolete and failure-prone

equipment such as 1960s mainframe computers, equipment dependent on vacuum

tubes, and radar between twenty and thirty years old. The FAA maintains safety

margins by artificially increasing the spacing between flights, imposing ground

holds and using other techniques that reduce system capacity. The airlines alone

waste $3 billion a year in fuel and crew time due to the delays. Wasted

passenger time is estimated at several billion dollars more. The FAA??s

National Airspace System Architecture Version 4.0 looks very impressive on

paper, but given their track record in regards to modernization, maybe we should

be looking at alternatives to a thinly stretched bureaucracy.