July 16, 2008

New Public-Private Partnership Aims to Increase Air Traffic Capacity, While Boosting Environmental and Economic Benefits

A new non-profit group seeks to deliver the economic and environmental benefits of a new, improved air transportation system -- the Alliance for Sustainable Air Transportation (ASAT; http://www.sustainableair.org), by working to help accelerate implementation of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) in the United States.

The organization's co-founder, technology visionary Traver Gruen-Kennedy of DayJet, is speaking today during the Sustainable Aviation Briefing at the Farnborough International Airshow (http://www.farnborough.com/) in the United Kingdom, on the need for a sustainable air transportation system and ASAT's plans to support its implementation. Other speakers at the Sustainable Aviation Briefing include executives from the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA); Airbus; Boeing Commercial Airplanes; British Airways; Cathay Pacific; International Air Transport Association (IATA); Orient Aviation Magazine; Rolls-Royce; and the Society of British Aerospace Companies (SBAC).

ASAT, based in Massachusetts in the United States, was announced by Florida's Governor Charlie Crist at the 2008 Florida Summit on Climate Change conference (http://www.myfloridaclimate.com/env/home/), June 26 in Miami; a press release on the announcement is available at http://www.sustainableair.org/news/press_releases.html.

NextGen is a wide-ranging transformation of the entire U.S. national air transportation system to meet future demands and avoid gridlock in the sky and at the nation's airports. NextGen is a complex nationwide plan that includes aircraft owned and operated by industry, airports owned and operated by local governments and airspace operated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD).

A key element of NextGen is environmental protection that contributes to sustained aviation growth, by focusing on issues of noise, air and water quality, global climate, and energy. ASAT's strategy is to support the implementation of NextGen regionally, locally, and in stages, through prototypes that favor the greatest benefits in the shortest time.

"Air transportation is a key ingredient in global business activity. If we want to drive economic development through aviation in the United States and around the world, our success must come through taking care of the health of our planet, and we must act quickly," said Gruen-Kennedy.

"With 80 percent of U.S. air traffic concentrated at only 35 airports, and with 740 million gallons of jet fuel wasted in 2007 due to flight delays in the United States alone, we cannot afford to wait. ASAT's work will assist the implementation of NextGen operating efficiencies and environmental benefits for the good of travelers, employees, partners, shareholders and our communities at large. It is our hope that these efforts will be a model for implementing similar partnerships in other parts of the world."

NextGen and the Need

The commercial aviation industry in the United States is in a state of crisis, brought on by increasing congestion and delays and exacerbated by a dramatic rise in the price of jet fuel and a slowing domestic economy. The U.S. air transportation system is stretched to the limit. FAA estimates suggest that the current system will reach gridlock by 2015 (http://www.faa.gov/news/fact_sheets/news_story.cfm?newsId=8807).

The NextGen plan was developed by the Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO), the central organization coordinating the specialized efforts of the U.S. Departments of Transportation, Defense, Homeland Security, Commerce, FAA, NASA, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The JPDO was created in 2003 by President Bush and Congress under VISION 100 - Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act (P.L. 108-176).

NextGen will transform the air transportation system by leveraging new technologies, such as satellite-based navigation, surveillance, and networking, as well as use of more efficient aircraft and under-utilized airspace. ASAT will achieve its goals for NextGen through facilitating the creation of state, regional and local prototype solutions, which will generate early successes that can be built upon and developed into a replicable blueprint for nationwide implementation.

It is estimated that NextGen may accommodate two to three times the current air traffic levels by shifting from ground-based, human-centric communications, navigation and surveillance systems to satellite-based, cockpit-enabled air traffic management. According to the U.S. Government Accounting Office (GAO), NextGen may also reduce carbon emissions in aviation by up to 12 percent, while lowering fuel consumption.

NextGen's potential to improve environmental performance is being demonstrated in a test program at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, where American Airlines' use of NextGen-related procedures is reducing carbon dioxide emissions by levels equivalent to removing 15,000 cars from the road for a year (source: FAA, http://www.faa.gov/news/testimony/news_story.cfm?newsId=10217).

About ASAT

The Alliance for Sustainable Air Transportation (ASAT) is a non-profit public-private partnership - a broad coalition of leaders who share a vision for accelerated implementation of a sustainable air transportation system. ASAT is a diverse group of federal, state, regional and local government entities and academic institutions.

ASAT is open to all who share the vision and are willing to contribute to its success. Current members and partners include: ACS International LLC, DayJet, Destiny, Florida - The Pugliese Company, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Federal Aviation Administration, Harris Corporation, JetSuite, Joint Planning and Development Office, Mineta Transportation Institute/SJSU, New Mexico State University, Selex Sistemi Integrati, Inc., SERCO, South Carolina Department of Commerce/Aeronautics Division, State of Florida, Unisys and University of Central Florida.

Our mission is to realize the early economic and environmental benefits of sustainable air transportation -- for everyone in the air and on the ground -- by helping to drive the transition to the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). We will accomplish this mission by educating stakeholders, defining metrics, developing a blueprint for implementation, and facilitating the development of prototypes. For more information, write to [email protected], call +1 (781) 876-8944 or visit www.sustainableair.org.