Air Transport World

Not slaved to the past: international cast mobilizes for ATM acceleration.(Airports & ATM)

Like an elephant, the global aviation industry is refusing to forget the lashing it took in 2000. It was gridlock--a time when roughly one-quarter of the aircraft movements in Europe and the US were delayed 15 min. or more, costing one side an estimated 8 billion [euro] and the other more than $9 billion in direct and indirect losses.

When traffic rebounds to 2000 levels, governments and industry want to be ready not to repeat the past. Their resolve has touched off a spasm of strategizing and partnering globally to try to push capacity ahead of demand, taking advantage of today's traffic slump to get a head start. It is a modernization campaign that many say will require a major overhaul of air traffic management ideologies, not just technology infusions, if aviation is to be unconstrained by infrastructure.

So far, Boeing's ATM business unit and Europe's Air Traffic Alliance, a grouping of EADS, Airbus and Thales, have taken the lead as the mouthpieces for the long view, if not the architects of the evolution itself. At the Paris Air Show in June, the pair took the stage and pledged to aid rather than compete with each other in championing the cause of common standards to ensure global interoperability for a future system.

While it may seem odd to have rivals like Boeing and Airbus on the same side of an issue, Boeing says the partnership is justified given the common interests at stake: a return to congestion will translate to lost aircraft sales for both manufacturers and a ripple-down effect will envelop lower-tier vendors. "It benefits no one to have regional solutions to air traffic management," says Boeing ATM VP-Strategy Kevin Brown. For the Alliance, which officially became a company in June, the connection represents a chance to leapfrog its agenda across an ocean. …

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