by Paul Ravenhill, Think Research.
I am constantly told that the next generation of Air Traffic Management (ATM) systems is going to be defined by UAS Traffic Management (UTM) and other advances required to accommodate drones and electric planes (eVTOL). This makes me wonder if this brave new world can be informed by the history of ATM R&D? I’ve been working on ATM modernisation for thirty years, and I wonder if past successes and even mistakes may yet prove useful?
Let’s start by thinking about how current methods of Air Traffic Control (ATC) came about. Air Traffic Controllers (ATCOs) have been helping pilots for over 100 years. Technology has moved a long way in that time. The key CNS technologies that we still use today – Radar, VHF Voice and ground navigation aids have been around for over 50 years. It is only in the last few years that new (often satellite based) CNS technologies and automation are emerging - leading to increased ATC performance.
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