DOT, airlines press for funds

The Transportation Department and airline officials say they will work together

to pressure Congress for funds to finish modernizing the air traffic control

system on schedule.

Buffeted by flight delays and cancellations, top industry members met

with DOT Aug. 21. While coming up with some short-term solutions, the department

also stressed its focus on long-term fixes, including air traffic control

system modernization and initiatives such as the Free Flight program.

"We also have to be about the business of continuing to take forth the

vision of the need to modernize the air traffic control system and to take

that to the Congress — to the American people — so that we can expedite

our commitment and our work in that regard," said DOT Secretary Rodney Slater.

Free Flight Phase One is scheduled for completion in 2002. It is a key

modernization effort that will provide a new network of communications systems,

on-board computers and Global Positioning System satellites to allow pilots

to choose routes based on current conditions.

Phase Two, which Federal Aviation Administration chief Jane Garvey announced

in May, will enable air traffic controllers to determine better routes.

It will also include a redesign of the national airspace and start work

on a set of research and development projects

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