On Feb. 6, the U.S. Senate passed a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) bill that will expedite moving the nation’s air-traffic control system from radar to global positioning system (GPS)-based technology. The House passed the bill the previous week, and now it moves to the White House for signing.
Among other things, the bill sets aside $11 billion of the $63.4 billion, four-year budget for modernization of the air traffic control system. It’s about time — this technological upgrade is overdue.
The U.S.has the most complicated air space in the world thanks to a vibrant and varied general aviation community, so the U.S. should definitely have the safest, most advanced control system possible.
GPS-based air traffic control has many advantages over the radar system:
- Positions are updated every second, rather than every six seconds.
- Closer together, more frequent take-offs and landings are possible.
- Pilots know exact locations of other aircraft and obstacles on the ground.
- Steeper descents use less fuel.
Also, the FAA predicts a 50 percent growth in air traffic over the next 10 years. Without GPS, that growth would be very difficult, if not impossible, to accommodate.
The FAA bill requires that a GPS-based landing program be in place at the 35 busiest airports by 2015. Onward and upward! After we get the GPS air traffic control in place, then we can start worrying about unmanned drones (airspace for them is also mandated in the bill) spying on us from above. Did someone say Overlord?