Boeing Dissolves ATC Division

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Boeing is scaling back its bid to revolutionize the world's air traffic control system because the existing setup seems to be working just fine ... for now. The Chicago-based firm announced Thursday that it was dissolving its Air Traffic Management division, likely because it didn't have any customers for the satellite-based, computer data link-dependent system. The air traffic division was hatched in the halcyon days of 2000 when airline traffic was growing so fast that the control system seemed on the verge of collapse in some areas. Since 9/11, interest has evaporated in the system as more conventional technological solutions, and the outright intervention by government to reduce congestion by decree, as happened in Chicago two months ago with the forced reduction of flights to O'Hare, seem to be favored. Boeing insists the project isn't dead, it's just been moved to the Phantom Works where the research will continue but at a less urgent level. Boeing CEO Harry Stonecipher said aviation regulators will eventually have to face the fact that the existing system won't be able to handle future loads. "When governments are ready to build an advanced air traffic management system, we will be ready to respond quickly," Stonecipher said in a statement. Other Boeing sidelines, like a plan to beam digital movies to theaters, have also been turfed, but one high-tech spinoff remains in operation. Connexion, which will offer broadband wireless Internet service on airliners, already has customers lined up for a launch next year.