Free Flight ready for next phase

A program to expand pilots' freedom to determine the most efficient routes

is ready to move into its next stage, Federal Aviation Administration chief

Jane Garvey said Thursday.

Garvey outlined the three parts of Free Flight Phase Two, which will

enhance the deployment of software and information technology at air traffic

control centers and towers nationwide.

John Thornton will head Free Flight Phase Two, Garvey also announced

at the Global Air and Space 2000 conference in Arlington, Va. Thornton

had been communications manager in the Free Flight Phase One program since

its inception in July 1998.

Under Free Flight Phase One, the FAA will implement

five new technologies by the end of 2002. Industry, which will play a role

in both phases of the program, will help FAA measure the results.

Free Flight Phase Two, scheduled to begin in 2003, will have three parts:

* Expand Free Flight Phase One capabilities nationwide. Conflict probe,

which allows controllers to determine better routes for aircraft without

interfering with another flight, will go from seven to all 20 en route control

centers. Traffic Management Advisor also will be deployed at remaining centers,

and the passive Final Approach Spacing Tool will be deployed at additional

terminal radar approach control centers. Data Link will enhance communications

between pilots and controllers.

* Redesign the national airspace. This project is still in development,

and Garvey acknowledged, "This challenge will not be easy."

* Tackle a prioritized set of research and development projects that

also are part of an evolving plan. Some areas that will be studied are departure

integration and departure management.

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