Air Traffic Management in the 21st Century

Judith Klein and John Dehn


Contemporary air traffic control, even in the most advanced countries in the world, is based on strictly enforcing filed routes of flight. Planes must follow recognized airways. Controllers are presented with a tactical view of the airspace they control and must mentally visualize what would happen if pilot-requested changes were accepted.

At the turn of the century the new direction taking shape is towards "free flight". Air traffic controllers and pilots will be able to make minute corrections for shorter (more direct) flight paths, thereby saving flying time and fuel costs while maintaining air traffic safety. Latest traffic and weather conditions will be taken into consideration when seeking a more direct route of flight. Tools have been prototyped, and are now going through product development, to give controllers a more strategic view of the airspace they control. Pilot-requested changes will be verified for safety before being accepted into the system.

We'll discuss in-progress development efforts as well as where the future will likely take us. We'll demonstrate an air traffic control system as it exists today.