Air Transport World

Political will. (air traffic control bogged down by bureaucracy) (editorial)

Political will

How can the sky be so vast and yet so crowded that airspace congestion has become one of the biggest and least explicable roadblocks facing world air-traffic growth?

In Europe, where international cooperation is reaching new heights with the coming of the Single Market in 1993, airspace congestion so threatens growth that this past summer's traffic dip was nearly welcomed by carriers able to keep sight of their timetables.

In the Pacific Rim, Latin America and other areas of real and potential growth--the challenge of keeping en route airplanes apart is a continual financial and cooperation obstacle.

A singular failure to cooperate across a broad front has made European efforts dismal to date, although there has been some stirring noted as outraged travelers forced increased operational cooperation. In a land where political compromise and cross-border coordination has reached unprecedented levels, the fact remains that the system, if such a hodgepodge can rightly be called a system, cannot move toward reducing the diversification of control to the point where there are essentially 22 separate ATC systems and many more ATC centers. …

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