GA Squeezed Out of the Future?
AOPA President Phil Boyer says there's not much room for general aviation in NASA's and the FAA's vision of future air travel. The so-called Next Generation Air Transportation System is geared toward commercial carriers and heaps expense on GA while diminishing its access. "But in this nightmare of the future, GA would lose access to airspace, experience increased security requirements, and operate from fewer airports," said Boyer, "even if we equipped with all the expensive technologies envisioned." There are some major shifts in the way airspace management would work under the plan [1.3 meg PDF file] but it's the expense that small aircraft owners would incur thatís got AOPA particularly riled.
Under the plan, all aircraft, including VFR-only planes, would have to be equipped to supply the "four dimensional trajectory (4DT) management" system with continuously updated position and flight plan information to take part in the system. All flights would have to have a flight plan. Planes without the gear would be restricted to what AOPA describes as "shrinking areas of 'classic airspace.'" Computer-controlled "virtual towers" would direct traffic at many GA airports and require sophisticated electronics to permit their use. Boyer says heíll continue to fight for modernization "to serve the needs of all users, not just the airlines."