Monthly Archives: January 2009

NASA may receive $150m for NextGen work

from Flightglobal:

NASA’s work on the US air transport industry’s NextGen air traffic control system could see its annual budget more than doubled if President Barack Obama’s fiscal stimulus bill is passed.
Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill 2009 includes a provision to give NASA $600 million, with $400 million for climate science, $50 million for weather damage related NASA centre repairs and the remaining $150 million for NextGen.
NASA is being funded under its fiscal year 2009 budget. The US government’s financial year is October to October. The 2009 budget was to spend $74.6 million on NextGen. NASA declines to comment on the extra $150 million until the recovery bill becomes law.

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Sens. Rockefeller and Hutchison look to NextGen stimulus – but how much?

from NextGov:

Senate Commerce Committee leaders might seek to add funding to the economic stimulus package to begin modernizing the nation’s air traffic control system, as uncertainty continues over the timing and chances of a multiyear FAA modernization plan.

Senate Commerce Chairman John (Jay) Rockefeller and ranking member Kay Bailey Hutchison — who led the Aviation Subcommittee in the last Congress — “are in agreement that it would be an appropriate place to put in the stimulus bill some beginning help” for FAA’s Next Generation Air Transportation System, Hutchison said. The agency’s program is designed to transform the ground-based air traffic control system to a satellite-based system.

While details — including the amount of money — are being worked out, Rockefeller said, “I don’t think you have to put in a tremendous amount.”

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Robert Herbert, Duane Woerth said locked in tight race for FAA Administrator job

From the Washington Post:

Long-time Senate aide Robert T. Herbert, in his bid for the top job at the Federal Aviation Administration, appears to be making headway against a rival backed by Washington’s labor establishment.

Herbert advises Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on transportation, defense and homeland security issues. Herbert has been locked in dogfight with Duane Woerth, a former president of the Air Line Pilots Association. Both men are regarded within Washington aviation circles as accomplished aviators and qualified to run the agency.

Woerth was identified as the leading contender for the job early on, and has the backing of the AFL-CIO. But Herbert has been pushing back. Reid sent a letter of support on behalf of Herbert to the Obama transition team last month. Additionally, Herbert met late last week with incoming Transportation Secretary Ray H. LaHood, the same day LaHood was confirmed to the post by the Senate.

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Reflections on PSOD, past and future

A lengthy and fascinating article by Aviation Week’s George Larson reflecting on the legacy of PSOD (Per Seat On-demand) air travel as popularized by the now-defunct DayJet. There’s lots to think about; Larson does a great job comparing and contrasting the various models of air charter and air taxi services. Here one small excerpt:

PSOD has little appeal for charter operators who want to serve traditional markets. Magellan Jets is a newly formed company that has a unique business proposition: “Simplicity,” says president and co-owner Anthony P. Tivnan. Aimed at the higher end clientele, the service provides aircraft seven years old or newer in a range of sizes to fit the trip, which includes everything and has no addition fees or invoices. All costs are deducted from an account with $250,000 on deposit.

“The per-seat model is the wrong place, wrong time,” he says. “We’re not positioning ourselves to target fliers who travel one to three times a year. The 30-percent decline in charter has been mostly those people.” He’s also not drawn to passenger aggregation schemes. “Our customer wants the airplane,” he says. Magellan customers are primarily looking for privacy.

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US Airways to equip its A330s with ADS-B

from Aviation Week:

US Airways plans to use its long-haul Airbus A330 fleet in a new FAA trial that is expected to bring the benefits of satellite-based navigation links to congested Northeast airspace and transatlantic routes.

The US Airways project – which also includes manufacturer Aviation Communications and Surveillance Systems (ACSS) – is the most ambitious step yet in a wider FAA initiative to fund avionics upgrades in selected airline fleets. These early deployments are geared toward demonstrating the effectiveness of systems vital to the FAA’s NextGen modernization effort, and providing operational data needed by the agency.

In the latest trial, automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) will be used in up to 20 Airbus A330s, initially at the US Airways hub at Philadelphia International Airport and then at Charlotte (N.C.) Douglas International. [..]

US Airways will retrofit the nine A330-300s it has in its fleet for ADS-B, and the A330-200s it has on order will be equipped as they arrive. This work is scheduled to begin in May, and US Airways expects to have 20 aircraft participating in the program by 2010. The A330s are considered ideal because they are predominantly used on transatlantic flights and depart from the same airport at around the same time.

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ATC transformation removed from GAO watch list

It took 14 years, but the FAA and its ATC transformation plans have been dropped from the Government Accountability Office’s “bad government” watch list, that identifies programs at high risk for fraud, waste, and abuse.

Faced with growing air traffic and aging equipment, FAA launched an ambitious effort in 1981 to modernize its air traffic control system. Key projects, however, were plagued by cost overruns, schedule delays, and performance shortfalls. Because of the program’s expense-estimated at $36 billion-and its critical importance to safe and efficient air travel, GAO added FAA air traffic control modernization to the High-Risk List in 1995. GAO is removing this program from its 2009 High-Risk List because of FAA’s progress in addressing most of the root causes of its past problems and the agency’s commitment to sustaining progress. FAA’s efforts have yielded results, including deploying new systems across the country and incurring fewer cost overruns. GAO will continue to monitor the modernization as well as the transition to the planned satellite-based Next Generation Air Transportation System.

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Explainer: CDA at Atlanta-Hartsfield

The science and technology website has a brief but interesting article entitled “Continuous Descent: Saving Fuel and Reducing Noise for Airliners.” An excerpt:

Proponents hope the 90-day test at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport – currently the nation’s busiest airport – will move the concept one step closer to nationwide implementation. Estimates suggest that continuous descent arrivals could save a large airline as much as $80 million per year in fuel costs alone.

“In commercial aircraft, we see anywhere between 300 and 1,000 pounds of fuel saved for each arrival,” said John-Paul Clarke, director of the Air Transportation Laboratory at Georgia Tech and an associate professor in the School of Aerospace Engineering. “With fuel cost at $3 per gallon, that would amount to as much as $600 per arrival and could really add up for the airlines at a time when they need all the savings they can get.”

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