Free «Next Gen-2: Air Traffic Management» Essay

Next Gen-2: Air Traffic Management

The aviation industry plays a substantial role in the global economy. It is one of the most rapidly developing types of economic activity. The whole world, especially the United States of America, depends on the air transport industry, to maintain and promote economic upturn, as well as ensure the security of the crucial service systems of the local communities. From this perspective, aviation is an important contributor to the global welfare and vitality. On the assumption of the continual growth of the civil aeronautics, the demand often surpasses the capacity of the air navigation service to adopt modern Air Traffic Management systems. It results in significant negative implications.

One of the fundamental principles of sustaining the civil aeronautics vitality is to provide safe, secure, and environmentally consistent air navigation systems at the global, state, and local levels. It requires the application of an effective air traffic management, which enables the maximum and efficient use of technical capability provided by the technological enhancement. The purpose of this essay is to research NextGen in the air traffic management, as well as discuss the challenges it faces and the ways of its solution. Although, the significant risks are evident, it is possible to manage them if maintenance and improvement of safety regulations are put in place.

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Air Traffic Management

There is a continual change in the airspace architecture. The task of the air traffic management (ATM) is to monitor the accident potentials. Air traffic management includes the means of developing control strategies used in the air traffic control. It aims at providing a safe and efficient flow of the aviation traffic. The safety of ATM has improved over the last years, ranging from better technologies to additional safety reasons. Air traffic management is the centralized and dynamic control of the aviation traffic and airspace in a safe, economic, and efficient way (Brooker, 2007). The safety criterions are now extremely demanding.

From the 1920s to 1930s, some changes in technology and organization took place; they enhanced operating performance and safety (Brooker, 2007). The control officers started using wireless traffic controls, especially radiotelephony.

Navigational guidance has evolved and improved substantially since the times of the War. It has moved from point-source responders to satellite-aided ones, such as GPS, which are highly reliable (Cook, 2007). There is a land-based short-term resolution alert (STCA); it warns flight supervisors of the aircraft coming into direct proximity. There is also Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System that informs pilots about further actions in the case of losing separation (Cook, 2007).

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Most importantly, the secondary surveillance radar has numerous benefits and still may potentially develop (Cook, 2007). The controller receives aircraft reference symbols, call signs, and information on aircraft height from the transmitter-responders. It is a huge step, as it has become almost equivalent to the phone with the information sent and received between the aircraft and ground systems. The aviators call it data link; it also includes text messaging (Cook, 2007).

Next Generation Air Traffic Control

Next Generation Air Traffic Control, also known as NextGen, is the instruction of the Federal Aviation Administration, Air Traffic Organization, and the U.S. Department of Transportation for a program that aims to change the air traffic control system into air traffic management one. This transformation is vital if the National Air Space System satisfies the user’s demand. Next Gen includes strategies, which in the case of their successful implementation will allow a growing number of aircraft to fly together along the direct and adjacent to each other routes. Thus, this program is going to increase the efficiency of airspace and minimize delays, save time and fuel, and allow dispatchers to control aircraft more efficiently (“Series on Program Management,” 2014).

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The current air traffic control system requires air traffic dispatchers to maintain the separation of the aircraft. They usually use radar indicators to visualize flight routes of aircrafts and make conclusions as to its future positions and possible conflicts. They also choose the alternative flight route in the case of emergency (Nolan, 2011). The air traffic controllers then use the radiotelephony communication to transmit required changes of the air routes. Even though, modern aircrafts may fly more precisely and are efficient in time and space, their in-flight flexibility is limited (Nolan, 2011).

Overall, NextGen is a system that will ensure safe and efficient air traffic management. It will modernize the air traffic system that is aging (Nolan, 2011). Moreover, it is the most complex Federal Aviation Administration’s attempt of investing billions of dollars from both the Government and airspace users (Nolan, 2011).

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Trajectory-Based Operations

The largest challenge of the air traffic management is to integrate new tools and concepts into the current system of airspace (Cate, 2013). One of the main solutions to this problem is the concept of the NextGen, namely, the trajectory-based operations (TBO) (Nolan, 2011). These operations also refer to the four-dimensional (4D) flight directions of the aircraft through time and space (Cate, 2013). This concept manages safety and capacity. TBO changes the aim of the Federal Aviation Administration from applying the operational clearance method of ATC to a trajectory-based system of ATM. The system provides flexible paths while ATC transforms from an individual control system to the joint management of the airspace and traffic flow. The dispatchers will not make tactical decisions anymore but will become strategically important coordinators of the traffic flow (Nolan, 2011). They will also arrange flight paths by estimating the flow and trajectories, as well as guarantee safety and separation of aircrafts. The TBO system will provide maximum usage of space and allow all users to access the system of air traffic control.

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If using this NextGen technology, the aircraft will transmit and receive navigational information including accurate routes and time (Cate, 2013). The improved surveillance technology and airborne avionics will provide both dispatchers and pilots with detailed information on the position and paths of aircrafts (Cate, 2013). Equipping an aircraft with the Advanced Automation Systems will make it possible for dispatchers to control its operation. They will also monitor any minor changes in the trajectory or potential conflict situations, and provide solutions to the pilots in a timely manner (Cate, 2013).

With the help of the trajectory-based operations, dispatchers will ensure secure and arranged traffic flows, making the use of airspace more efficient (Nolan, 2011). They will help controllers to determine the aircraft position accurately over any boundaries on a real-time basis.

Airspace Management

The current system of air traffic management faces the challenges of the airspace location, including the inflexibility of dividing lines, based on the historical limitations (Nolan, 2011). Such fixedness establishes a capacity constraint in times of maximum demand, airspace restriction, and route changes due to the weather condition. Today, it is impossible to change routes of large airspaces in real-time. However, the NextGen will allow changing sector boundary and airspace definition on a real-time basis and adjusting them to the air traffic flow (Nolan, 2011).

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The use of Required Navigation Performance (RNP) as a navigational approach will provide an opportunity to both controllers and pilots to describe aircraft routes more accurately. The current system faces the problem of traffic congestion (Nolan, 2011). Today, arrival and departure procedures, as well as airport designs, based on restricted airspace and navigator, make it impossible to separate aircrafts. The use of RNP will develop airways and procedures free from limitations of the land-based navigation equipment (Nolan, 2011).

Another initiative that will eliminate airspace complexity for both aircraft dispatchers and aircrew is NextGen Metroplex (Turner, 2012). This change will create separate flight paths for arrivals and departures to allow aircraft to ascend and descend easily and efficiently. It will also develop the procedure of Optimized Profile Descent that will permit pilots to use the onboard flight-controllers (Turner, 2012). They will minimize the fuel consumption of, emission of carbon and eliminate noise. This initiative will also make flight paths shorter, more direct, and efficient to fly through congested airspace. Finally, it will introduce satellite-borne procedures for relief airports (Turner, 2012).

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Another approach used in the airspace management is equivalent visual one (Nolan, 2011). It will develop procedures that relieve constraints currently imposed by extreme weather conditions. The precision approach has to be available to any runway, thus extending the overall airport carrying capacity (Nolan, 2011). The efficient use of four-dimensional feed line control of aircrafts will provide effective use of airport traffic area and runways.

Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast

Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) is a new surveillance, which helps modernize the air transportation system (Nolan, 2011). It will serve as the cornerstone for the transformation of the U.S. traffic control system from a radar-based to a satellite-based surveillance system using GPS technology (Nolan, 2011). ADS-B allows avoiding accidents and collision, as well as separating flights.

ADS-B combines satellites, receivers, and transmitters to provide pilots and controllers with specific data on airplane’s location and speed (Strohmeier et al., 2014). Avionic equipment defines its position in four dimensions, including time, longitude, altitude, and latitude. Navigation-aid satellites transmit data that allows aircrafts, equipped with GPS receivers to identify own location or velocity (Strohmeier et al., 2014). The receivers of ADS-B are located onboard of other planes or in ground-based air traffic control systems; they provide accurate data on the aviation traffic. Moreover, ADS-B requires low altitudes in order to control traffic on airport runways. It is also effective in remote districts, which lack or have limited radar coverage (Strohmeier et al., 2014).

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There is an enormous number of benefits of ADS-B to airlines. It allows the aviation industry to improve the current safety standards. Consequently, the flight crew knows it location in relation to other planes (“Series on Program Management,” 2014). It provides the real-time data in the case of airplane’s deviation from the flight route. It displays both airborne and ground traffic. It also gives information on any changes such as accelerates, ascents, or descends. It also allows the air traffic control system to accommodate more flights. It increases the visibility of aircraft in the same area, which allows them to use the same runway (“Series on Program Management,” 2014). Likewise, ADS-B provides flight efficiency and accuracy of the observation data within the system of air traffic control.

The Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast is being integrated around the globe. It can decrease the cost of provided services, increase the working efficiency and capacity of the air transportation system. Its intention is to transform the air traffic control into effective air traffic management (“Series on Program Management,” 2014). It works on providing more efficient, reliable, and accurate tracking of aircrafts.











En Route Automation Modernization

The oceanic computer system that currently operates at the Air Route Traffic Control Centres is inappropriate for the software enhancements, needed for the Next Generation air traffic control (Nolan, 2011). The Federal Aviation Administration has started an installation of the En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM) (Nolan, 2011). This computer system is going to replace the current air traffic control automated system. ERAM is a high-altitude traffic platform that controls en route aircraft in the US (Rhoades, 2014).

It will also replace the host computer hardware and software system, as well as the secondary system of the direct access radar channel (Nolan, 2011). ERAM will provide modular and extended system. It will integrate with the current radar system tracking and aircraft data processing capabilities (Nolan, 2011). It will provide feed control and sequencing of the traffic flow management. This computer system will increase the automated operational availability and reliability, reduce delays, minimize traffic limitations, and improve the efficiency of the National Aircraft Standard (Nolan, 2011). ERAM will receive the positioning reports of aircraft from both radars and ADS-B (Nolan, 2011).

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Moreover, the observation details will provide automatic monitoring, resolution alert, and minimum safe altitude warning. The air data processor will evaluate 4D trajectory for every airplane, and make it available to the air traffic management (Nolan, 2011). Even though ERAM manages high altitude and en-route traffic, it does not have accurate airport data such as runway configuration or arrival check reference (Rhoades, 2014).


The continual development of civil aviation and associated demand for the Air Traffic Management services required the increasing capacity of the airspace. The main solution to all of the current ATM challenges, especially the increasing user demand, is the Next Generation Air Traffic Control. It will allow aircrafts fly closely together, use and negotiate direct routes, improve aircraft separation, and at the same time, increase airspace efficiency and avoid delays. In order to increase safety, as well as stability and predictability of the air traffic management system, it is vital to use trajectory-based operations. For the elimination of the airspace location challenges, it is significant to apply RNP, Metroplex, and equivalent visual approaches. Moreover, the new form of surveillance, ADS-B will help modernize the air transportation system. Finally, the ERAM computer system can manage high altitude and flight traffic.

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