ATC modernization must work for GA

June 15, 2009

The modernization of the air traffic control system, including ADS-B, must meet the needs of general aviation pilots, AOPA Executive Vice President of Government Affairs Andy Cebula told an audience of industry and government leaders June 10.

For nearly two decades, GA has been at the cutting edge in the adoption of GPS, the cornerstone of the NextGen air traffic modernization; and the FAA must put in place the equipment, procedures, and support necessary to facilitate the transition to satellite-based navigation and surveillance, Cebula said in a symposium on the implementation of NextGen.

“The modernization of the air traffic control system must accommodate a wide range of aircraft in the general aviation fleet,” Cebula said. AOPA’s presence at the symposium and active involvement in NextGen advisory groups—including RTCA, which hosted the symposium—has helped ensure that GA is included in the planning process, he added. “Pilots have embraced satellite-based navigation, and there is much that needs to be done to have the right procedures and equipment in place to ensure new and existing technologies are put to the best possible use.”

AOPA was an early advocate for a satellite-based ATC system, and now 86 percent of members use GPS as a means of navigation. A growing number of aircraft are equipped with Wide Area Augmentation Systems (WAAS), which provide even more advanced capabilities such as low-altitude navigation. The FAA must make the most of existing equipment and support aircraft operators as they equip with new technology, Cebula said.

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