Mineta Plans To Triple Airspace Capacity

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Technology, Infrastructure Needs To Modernize...

The U.S. airspace system is bursting at the seams, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta said this week, and if thousands of "micro-jet" air taxis and unmanned aircraft start sharing the skies too, demand for services will intensify. In a speech at the Aero Club in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Mineta announced plans aimed at tripling airspace capacity in the next 15 to 20 years, modernizing GPS navigation, and enhancing on-board technologies to maximize safety. "If America wants to retain its global air transportation leadership, we need to modernize and transform our air transportation system -- starting right now," Mineta said. "The changes that are coming are too big, too fundamental, for incremental adaptations of the infrastructure." Mineta said that without the changes, gridlock would be inevitable. As an example, he cited the recent efforts by the FAA to reduce delays at Chicago's O'Hare Airport by asking two major airlines to reduce their peak operations by 5 percent. That was a necessary step, Mineta said, but rationing airport use cannot work as a long-term strategy.