In a Chicago Tribune article about Thursday’s AIRE demo flight, American Airlines captain and spokesman Brian Will had this to say:
“For years, we’ve had all this great equipment on the airplanes, but we are not able to use a lot of these things because of what essentially are speed bumps caused by an outdated air-traffic system,” said Brian Will, a Boeing 777 captain at American who is also the airline’s technical programs manager. “This flight from Paris’ Charles De Gaulle to Miami International will show what can be accomplished — several thousands of pounds of fuel saved on that one flight — if we can get the regulators and the rules out of the way,” Will said. [..]
“Airplanes using GPS can report their real-time position anywhere on the planet with accuracy of 20 feet,” Will said. “We have the tools today and really shouldn’t be forced to wait until 2020.”
From the Miami Herald:
Thursday’s flight will use GPS signals virtually all the way, instead of conventional ground-based radio navigation beacons. A similar Paris-Miami flight by Air France is scheduled for Tuesday, according to the FAA — but the French airline could not be reached for comment.
Brian Will, an American Airlines captain, described the event as a gate-to-gate demonstration flight in which the airline and air traffic control in Europe and the United States will coordinate new technical capabilities and ”tailored arrival” procedures in which aircraft descend at reduced power from cruising altitude to approach without leveling off at intermediate altitudes — the traditional step-down method.
The air traffic controllers union is skeptical.
”The FAA has gone to great lengths to advertise NextGen as the panacea to all issues involving our enormous air traffic control system,” Jim Marinitti, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association Local MIA, and Mitch Herrick, the local’s vice president, said in a statement. “The event scheduled for this week with the American Airlines aircraft is simply a publicity stunt. The flight will be using Global Positioning System (GPS) technology that we have been using for years.” [..]
American Airlines said the flight is part of AIRE, an initiative stemming from the Europe/U.S. Open Skies treaty. AIRE stands for Atlantic Interoperability Initiative to Reduce Emissions, a joint project involving the FAA, the European Commission and several global airlines to speed application of new technologies and procedures to reduce noise and carbon emissions.
Other sources: Associated Press wire, AA press release.