Electronic Design

NGATS: The Big Picture

When all is said and done, some people in Washington do have vision and can take a long-term view. Check out www.aaae.org, where you'll find the Next Generation Air Transportation System Integrated Plan (NGATS). These 38 pages of dense (and unfortunately, often bureaucratic) verbiage project a 20-year vision for U.S. aviation.

This plan comes with a reasonably high level of endorsement. Chaired by the Secretary of Transportation, the senior policy committee consists of the Administrator of the FAA, the NASA Administrator, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Secretary of Commerce, and the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. The NGATS document summarizes the country's aviation objectives for the next 20 years in these terms:

"a traveler or shipper determines departure and arrival times—instead of being confined to a predetermined schedule...

"a hassle-free travel experience where safety and security measures, ticketing, and baggage checks are all transparent as the traveler or package moves easily through the airport and on and off the aircraft...

"the possibilities of owning a recreational plane, micro-jet, or a share of a jet capable of flying in nearly all weather conditions were affordable to more Americans...

"less aircraft noise and emissions pollution, even as significant increases in air transportation occur...

"civil and military operations seamlessly integrated sharing necessary travel information with all users of the system worldwide...

"communities that have more choices in how to connect with the larger air transportation system and expanded direct global access."

That's the sweeping vision. The document also goes into some detail about how this is to be integrated and managed by the various agencies involved. As a visionary document, it lacks budgetary information. But if you want to get ahead of the curve, check it out, see what looks most feasible, and work to make it happen.

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