1980-04-01

The Air Traffic Control System—Is it a System? 800615

The Nation’s airspace is finite and only proper management of this valuable asset will permit the safe movement of the ever increasing numbers of aircraft. The current system will not permit the flexibility required to handle the projected traffic unless traffic flows can be permitted with minimum separation and minimum human involvement from the monitoring agency. Today’s system is an evolvement from the basic human controller--tomorrow’s system must place the controller in a management role with intervention only during times of system abnormality. Separation assurance is the reason for the air traffic control system (ATC). This capability must be a redundant one with the pilot having information available in the event of the failure of the ATC ‘system’. The more independent of the ground environment the pilot’s separation data can be the more desirable such a system would be. Proponents of the theoretical capabilities of the Navstar satellite program seem to ignore the political reality that no navigation system controlled by a military arm of a State can ever be acceptable in the ICAO forum as witness the development and acceptable acceptance cycle of the OMEGA/VLF system.

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