FAA says airlines must share strains of soaring air travel

The Federal Aviation Administration forecasts sharp increases in commercial air travel over the next 12 years and calls on airlines to add capacity, ease congestion

Based on predictions of continued economic prosperity, the Federal Aviation

Administration forecasts a steady climb in commercial air travel over the

next 12 years and an accompanying strain on air traffic control services.

Increased air travel places more work on air traffic controllers at

FAA and contract towers, en route air traffic control centers and flight

service stations.

"[Upgrades] will help meet the growth. [But] air traffic control alone

is not the problem," said John Rodgers, director of the FAA's Office of

Aviation Policy and Plans.

Airlines will have to add more aircraft or change their operations so

that congested hubs do not play as big a role in their expansions, Rodgers

said yesterday during a press briefing announcing the FAA's aerospace forecasts

for fiscal 2000 to fiscal 2011.

The FAA expects tower operations to increase 28 percent, instrument

operations to increase 31 percent and air route traffic control center activity

to increase 33 percent by 2011.

Planned automation and other improvements of the FAA-operated air traffic

control system include:

* Replacement of controller displays.

* Transition from voice communications between pilots and controllers

to data links.

* Development of Global Positioning System satellite technology.

* Development of other systems that automate much of the data gathering

and transmissions between pilots and controllers or flight service specialists.

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