Group urges air traffic upgrades

The government needs to create a joint program office to coordinate the deployment of a highly automated air traffic management system, according to a presidential commission.

In findings released Nov. 18, the Commission on the Future of the U.S. Aerospace Industry called for a range of actions including development of real-time, space-based communications.

The commission made nine recommendations to the Bush administration and Congress that, if implemented, would impact aerospace initiatives at several agencies — the Defense Department, NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and others — that must begin working together, it emphasized.

"We stand dangerously close to squandering the advantage bequeathed to us by prior generations of aerospace leaders," the commission wrote in the executive summary to its 300-page final report, which covered vision, air transportation, space, national security, government, global markets, business, workforce and research issues. "We must reverse this trend and march toward rebuilding the industry."

The commission backed funding for the FAA's modernization effort.

Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House Science Committee, said, "The report makes a strong case that government must increase its investment in aerospace research and...must increase investment in math and science education to ensure a continuing pipeline of motivated, talented men and women."

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