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NEWS Last modified on January 7, 2014

Study claims US air traffic control system 'falling behind'

A Hudson Institute study claims the US air traffic control system has ‘fallen seriously behind modern information technology’.

The ‘Organization and Innovation in Air Traffic Control’ report was prepared by Robert Poole, director of transportation policy at the Reason Foundation.

The study details five obstacles it says there are to the US leadership in global air transportation.

It uses case studies, which it claims show organisational roadblocks preventing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) frommodernising its flight procedures, communications and navigation technology, and governing structure.

The report suggests steps necessary to bring the US system back to the ‘forefront’ of global air transportation.

The five obstacles it says are:

1 - The US air traffic control has yet to enter the digital age and still relies on technology that was developed in the 1960s.

2 - An upgraded system would bring tremendous savings in time, fuel, and expense to travellers and carriers; enhanced safety; and improved environmental quality.

3 - The FAA is hobbled by government budget constraints, procurement rules, and multiple layers of political oversight. It lacks the incentives and resources to keep pace with the needs of the aviation community and growth in air traffic.

4 - The most advanced and innovative systems are in Australia, Canada, Germany, the UK, and New Zealand, that have moved air traffic control into single-mission organisations charging directly for their services, issue revenue bonds for capital improvements, and governed by aviation stakeholders.

5 - A similar approach would be highly feasible for the US and is attracting increasing support because of the federal government's budget problems and the growing gap between the air traffic system and state-of-the-art technology.

The report will be the subject of a panel discussion to be held at the Hudson Institute in Washington DC on January 16.

The institute is a non-partisan policy research organisation dedicated to innovative research and analysis promoting security, prosperity, and freedom.

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