GPS, the satellite-based navigation system that has revolutionized travel by car and truck, even by foot, could do the same for commercial air traffic, according to Peter Orszag, Vice Chairman of global banking at Citigroup Inc. and a former director of the Office of Management and Budget in the administration of US President Barrack Obama.
Peter informed that President Barack Obama has proposed stepping up government investment in NextGen, a GPS-based air-traffic-control technology that will allow planes to fly closer to one another than they can with human and radar help alone and to follow more direct flight paths. The system is expected to reduce delays and decrease flight times by more than a third, saving billions of dollars for airline companies and for the traveling public. This would mean consuming less jet fuel, so carbon emissions would be lower, too, added Peter.
So it’s a step in the right direction, said Peter, adding that unfortunately though, the NextGen system is being rolled out in stages, and it isn’t expected to be fully operational in U.S. airports and aircraft until 2020. Even that slow timetable assumes that the Federal Aviation Administration, the agency overseeing the project, receives the necessary funding from Congress and can meet all its deadlines.
Peter said that there is a way to move faster, one that would probably also help the NextGen system work more smoothly once it’s in place: Take responsibility for implementing the new GPS system, and for air-traffic control altogether, away from the FAA and assign it to a private, nonprofit organisation.
Source: Business Week