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The Future of the Aviation Industry in the United States

The Federal Aviation Administration is expecting substantial changes in the industry over the next 20 years. The task of preventing aviation accidents is likely to get more complicated if the FAA projections about air travel are accurate. The FAA projects that air traffic will nearly double by 2032. This increase in traffic will put additional pressure on the air traffic controllers. To combat this, the FAA is pushing its new, satellite based air traffic control system known as NextGen. This system would replace the land based radar system currently used by air traffic controllers.

Domestic air travel accommodated 731 million passengers in 2011. The current estimate for 2032 is more than 1.2 billion passengers. More passengers will mean more planes and larger planes in the skies in and around the nation's major airports. High altitude traffic, in particular, is expected to grow by roughly 50 percent in that time period.

In order to ensure that those planes can takeoff, fly and land safely, the FAA is recommending the technology used by air traffic controllers be upgraded. In addition to avoiding collisions, the improved system is expected to reduce wasted fuel and make the industry as a whole more efficient. The $11 billion NextGen project is the FAA's answer to many of concerns raised by the 2012-2032 Aerospace Forecast.

Incorporating new technology is just one of the challenges that will confront air traffic controllers in the near future. We will discuss several of those challenges, as well as the efforts being made to overcome them, in future posts.

Source: Aviationpros.com, "FAA Says Industry's Expected Growth Shows Value Of NextGen Project," by Derek Harper, 12 March 2012

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