GAO Worries About The Future Of VFR


Now, we all know that satellite-based systems will largely replace curve-of-the-earth-hampered ground stations and we all know that it will require some extra equipment on board. But is VFR going to be somehow limited or discouraged in the process? The GAO seems to think so. The Government Accountability Office recently released its latest in the series of updates on just how the FAA is doing with its modernization plans (better, it turns out). That document contains vaguely disturbing references to just how VFR fits into the Next Generation Air Traffic System (NGATS). The report contains three references (p. 2, 5 and 29) calling it a “critical policy issue” to determine “the extent to which NGATS will accommodate visual flights versus instrument-only flights.” It’s not clear from the document’s wording what that all means but clearly there’s some discussion at the FAA on how to fit the majority of GA flights into a system that, it appears, will rely heavily on instrumentation to keep us from banging into one another. The “the level of monitoring needed by pilots when automation is ensuring safe separation from surrounding aircraft” is another concern as is the inevitably of the screens going blank.