NASA turns to air traffic control
- By Paula Shaki Trimble
- Apr 12, 2000
NASA research is critical to new information technologies that will redesign
the way the national airspace is managed, according to witnesses who spoke
Tuesday before a House subcommittee.
NASA should focus on developing a wireless Internet with high availability
that will meet the requirements of pilots and air traffic controllers, said
George Donohue, visiting professor for air transportation at George Mason
University, speaking before the House Science Committee's Space and Aeronautics
The wireless telecommunications systems that aircraft use today are not
adequate to support a new system, he said.
As airline travel grows, technology must improve to safely reduce the spacing
of aircraft, Donohue said. Such technology includes collision avoidance
systems, situational awareness and communications, digital data links, and
Global Positioning System satellite navigation.
Although some people may view these as problems the Federal Aviation Administration
must address, NASA has been more successful at attracting skilled staff
to handle such research-oriented, long-term problems, he said.
Sam Venneri, NASA's associate administrator for the Office of Aero-Space
Technology, defended his office's $1.2 billion budget request for fiscal
2001. About six of the agency's 10 aerospace technology goals relate to
The office hopes to develop technology that provides better information
and visualization in the cockpit, Venneri said. The office also will look
at the engineering processes and tools NASA uses to simulate operations
of spacecraft and aircraft, he said.
NASA also is looking at ways to increase airspace system capacity outside
the hub-and-spoke model commercial airlines use today. That format will
not be able to accommodate a tenfold increase in use, Venneri said.