Alaska Inks Capstone Deal

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Alaska could become a real-life test bed for technologies anticipated to be part of the Next Generation Air Transportation System under a complex agreement recently (and secretly) signed by the FAA and many of Alaska’s aviation groups and companies. The Business Journal of Alaska obtained a copy of the agreement and says it calls for installation of Automatic Dependent Broadcast-Surveillance and other gear that formed the basis of the Capstone system in 5,000 GA and commercial aircraft. Essentially, the deal requires the aviation industry to ensure that the aircraft will get the necessary equipment, while the FAA will set up the infrastructure. While it’s expected to be easy to get the commercial operators on board, getting all the private owners to equip their planes might not be as easy, and it could be a deal breaker. “The agreement will be considered null and void if industry is unable to successfully equip aircraft as expected in this agreement,” according to the agreement. Howard Swancy, an advisor to the FAA on the project, told the newspaper that they’re aware of the potential pitfalls and are committed to try to work past them. “This is a living document that can be changed to meet the needs, if both parties agree that progress is being made,” Swancy told the Journal. While a good cross-section of Alaska aviation groups and companies have signed the agreement, there are some notable exceptions, according to the newspaper. The State of Alaska, which owns the airports, hasn’t signed on yet, nor has the Alaska Federation of Natives or some charter companies.