Honeywell is actively engaged in the global air traffic management (ATM) initiative, sharing our industry expertise and developing technology that can modernize airports and the air traffic system. The World ATM Congress meeting of air traffic management professionals is underway this week in Madrid, Spain. Chris Benich is with Honeywell government relations and spends his days working closely with government and industry officials across the world on aerospace initiatives including ATM. He is in Madrid this week so I thought I'd do a Q&A session with him to check in on the latest with ATM and Honeywell, and ask the question - "why should the general public should care about ATM?"
Q: What are the most pressing or exciting issues to be addressed at World ATM Congress?
Benich: The World ATM Congress is an opportunity for government and industry stakeholders from several global regions to discuss current status and future plans for their ATM modernization initiatives. The European Union's SESAR program is front and center due to the European venue, but many senior United States officials representing the NextGen program will participate along with representatives from Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Aligning deployments of data communications capability between the EU and US and surveillance programs (ADS-B) globally will be big topics of discussion.
Q: What are the biggest obstacles facing advancement of ATM?
Benich: Establishing confidence among all stakeholders that the required investments will pay off in the anticipated benefits - increased efficiency, capacity, safety, and lower costs - in a reasonable time frame. The diverse nature of the stakeholders (public and private sector, airlines and general aviation) makes this very challenging. Also, political will. Prioritizing this investment against many competing needs in a very lean budget environment is an ongoing concern. This is particularly difficult in the EU where numerous member states need to align their priorities and move forward in lock step.
Q: Why should the general public care about ATM?
Benich: Whether you fly regularly, occasionally, or not at all, an efficient and effective regional and global air transportation system has a positive impact on quality of life. For those who fly, having service available where you want to go and when you want to travel is dependent on an underlying ATM system that ensures capacity is available to meet demand. Similarly for those who don't fly regularly, an increasing amount of commerce is being done electronically and dependent on high value goods shipped via the air. Whether it's medical supplies, fresh produce, or internet shopping deliveries, the air transportation system ensures the goods people want are available when they want them. Also, as more and more demand is placed on aviation services, it's important that we do all we can to minimize the impact of aviation on the environment. Modernizing ATM enables more efficient routing, laterally and vertically, in the air and on the airport surface, reducing fuel burn and greenhouse gas emissions.
Q: What technologies are poised to address ATM issues?
Benich: The three main underlying technologies are digital data communications (augmenting and replacing voice communications), satellite navigation (GPS and similar systems globally), and automatic position reporting (Automatic Dependent Surveillance - replacing ground-based radars domestically and voice position reporting in remote locations). These technologies are leveraged by advanced automation systems for controllers and pilots to enhance situational awareness, decision-making and overall system performance. The following graphic shows Honeywell technologies available to address ATM.
Q: What are your priorities for Madrid?
Benich: First and foremost, to meet with officials from government agencies, air traffic control service providers, and industry customers and partners, to better understand their current plans, expectations and challenges and discuss Honeywell's views and ability to assist in meeting their goals. Beyond that, I'll be working with my Honeywell colleagues from our Aerospace and Automation and Control Solutions businesses to promote our ATM solutions and hopefully create some new business opportunities.
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