|Ready for a new approach
Boeing’s Washington, D.C., office and
ATM partner to promote new air traffic management concept
The Sept. 11 attack on the United States created an unprecedented need
to improve the safety and security of the U.S. and world air transportation
systems as quickly as possible. The Boeing Company is lending its expertise
and experience to this effort in many ways, including through one of its
newest business units, Air Traffic Management.
ATM was established in November 2000 to increase the capacity, efficiency,
safety and security of the air transportation system. The satellite-based
system Boeing has proposed includes flight planning based on trajectory
information, which would enable air traffic managers to predict where
an airplane will be further into the future and with more precision than
It also includes a common information network that would allow dynamic
revision of flight paths and calls for a redesign of the airspace structure
that would allow development of more strategic, less repetitive operating
Boeing ATM concepts were originally focused on increasing system capacity,
said John Hayhurst, president of Boeing ATM, but there were always
tremendous security enhancements in our system. Because of that, the shift
toward safety and security after Sept. 11 did nothing more than propel
our concepts to the forefront of the discussion.
Security advantages of the proposed ATM concept include data link communications
with sophisticated encryption algorithms. Authorized parties also would
have instant access to the same up-to-date information, enabling rapid
collaborative decision making in times of crisis, even among geographically
dispersed decision makers.
As envisioned, the highly computerized system could immediately respond
to a security concern such as the restriction of airspace access
around a sports stadium due to a terrorist threat by safely rerouting
aircraft and automatically updating flight plans to comply.
Generating the momentum necessary to develop such a system poses both
technical and political challenges. Air Traffic Management teams in McLean,
Va., and Bellevue, Wash., are attacking the technical challenges. Boeings
Washington, D.C., operations office, headed by former Deputy Secretary
of Defense Rudy de Leon, leads the political charge. Leading ATMs
effort to convey its message to policy makers and government leaders in
the U.S. capital is Bob Vilhauer, director of Washington, D.C., operations
The challenges faced by ATM in gaining support for its concepts were daunting
before Sept. 11, said Vilhauer, as there was no real sense of urgency
among policymakers to revolutionize the air transportation system along
the lines of the concepts under development by Boeing ATM. However,
the events of Sept. 11 changed all that.
Despite the shift in focus from system capacity to system security, potential
obstacles to change still loom large.
Developing and implementing a revolutionary new air transportation
system cannot occur in a vacuum, Hayhurst said. Our success
depends on carefully coordinating the often competing interests of a variety
of system users and stakeholders, governmental agencies, and international
The D.C. office has helped ATM develop a strategy designed to garner support
among four key groups: air traffic system stakeholders and users within
the United States; the business community; the U.S. government; and governments
and stakeholders around the world.
ATM has assembled a team of aviation system users and stakeholders, known
collectively as the Working Together Team, to develop requirements for
a new air transportation system from the broadest possible perspective.
In the early stages of the WTT process, the D.C. office held high-level
discussions with numerous stakeholders to help them understand the benefits
of overhauling the current system.
The D.C. office also has teamed with several trade associations and the
U.S. Chamber of Commerce to complete an extensive study of the aviation
industrys economic impact on the United States. This study is currently
in its final phases, and Vilhauer expects the final results to be released
later this year.
This economic impact study will remind business owners about the
importance of a thriving aviation industry to our nations prosperity,
said Vilhauer. Grassroots support from the business community will
give more momentum to the effort to revolutionize the current air transportation
One of ATMs biggest constituencies in any discussion of overhauling
the air transportation system is the federal government, and the D.C.
office has spent hundreds of hours promoting ATM to the Bush Administration,
members of Congress, and a wide range of government agencies.
For instance, detailed briefings to the Presidents Commission on
the Future of the U.S. Aerospace Industry led to Dr. John Marburger, director
of the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Presidents
science adviser, calling for strong and clear support for a new air transportation
system and for leadership from the administration to enable that system.
The ATM and D.C. office teams augmented this contact by an ongoing series
of meetings with members of Congress and key employees of governmental
agencies such as the Department of Transportation, the Department of Defense,
the Office of Homeland Security, NASA, and law enforcement authorities.
These meetings have stressed the inherent security features of the Boeing
ATM concept and have helped policymakers understand the pressing need
From the beginning, the ATM team believed that any new air transportation
system needed to be globally interoperable to be fully successful. However,
achieving global interoperability presents another set of complicated
Currently, the ATM and D.C. office team is working with the Center for
Strategic and International Studies to develop an understanding of the
complex issues that need to be addressed in a truly global air traffic
management system. The team also is working closely with a number of governments
to understand how the instant global information sharing inherent in the
Boeing ATM concept would alter the delicate balance between national sovereignty
and national security.