Introduction.The aviation industry is undergoing through radical changes. This is in a bid to improve on security, cut production and running costs, becoming environmentally friendly, reducing travelling time and improving on service delivery. These changes are done to have an edge over the competitors in the industry while maintaining client satisfaction. In the United States, changes in the aviation industry are being put in place already. There is the development of the Next Generation Air Transport System (Next Gen). This is the name given to a new National Airspace System which is going to be implemented across the nation between the year 2012 and 2025 in stages. This paper is going to look at the technology, system and components of next generation aircrafts.
Next Gen Technologies.In a bid to realize the goals of National Airspace System (NAS), there has been a lot of modeling and remodeling of aircraft improvements. Technology is being pushed to the limit as it was evidenced by the manufacture of Concorde aircrafts. These crafts are take three hours to make a flight from New York to London while a normal aircraft takes a whooping seven hours. There has been a need to even reduce further the three hours taken by Concorde planes. This has led to the development of X-51A Wave Rider aircraft which flies unmanned and could take one hour to fly between New York and London. It is said that technology used in the Wave Rider aircraft could be used in next generation military aircrafts, space aircrafts and passenger planes too. All this is to save time taken to travel between locations.
In order to be within the set environmental limits, technology has been employed to tackle the issues mostly noise pollution. Over the years, there has been production of better and quieter turbine engines that are high performing and improved fuel consumers. There has also been the emergence of aircrafts that are light in weight. This has been possible by the use of strong light weight plastics and composite materials instead of metal. Light aircrafts reduce fuel consumption thus saving of money. There are plans to come up with technology that aims at improving fuel efficiency by 60% or 70%.
Plans are under way to develop engines that are run by bio-fuel. This is being worked on in order to comply with regulations that stipulate the amount of carbon emission airlines are allowed to release in the atmosphere. If such engines are developed and prove to be a success, then huge costs will be cut from buying fuel as bio-fuel is cheaper compared to petroleum.
Next Gen System.Currently, the air traffic control system used in America is the ground-based system which is being termed as old. All countries in the world use this system to guide air traffic in their respective air spaces. Next Gen however, has proposed the use of satellite-based system. This system will use Global Positioning System (GPS). This system helps pinpoint positions of anything in the world with utmost accuracy. It is being used in mobile phones, vehicles among other fields. Its introduction in the aviation industry will mean air routes will be shortened hence saving of fuel and time, there will be reduced air traffic delays and air traffic controllers will have the ability to control aircrafts with greater safety margins compared to today.
Next Gen projects to use the GPS system in aircrafts by the year 2020. This will allow pilots to choose their own flight paths. Pilots will also know their positions in relation to other planes thus the ability of many flights taking place close to one another and yet evade collision. The system will also aid in transfer of information regarding weather conditions. This is important information to aviation players as it helps predict weather conditions in planned routes. In general GPS system will lead to faster flying, better landing, improved navigation in different weather conditions and better running of airports.
Next Gen Components.There are five components in Next Gen and they include;
System Wide Information Management (SWIM); This system will provide a platform for one information system to avail data to many users and applications by reducing the number and types of system and interface. It will reduce redundancy of data and facilitate multi user information sharing thus new ways of decision making due to ease of information accessibility.
Next Generation Data Communications; Voice communication form the large base of communication between aircrew and traffic control, and between air traffic controllers. Incorporation of data communication will add to the two way communication for instructions, advisories, flight crew request, reports and air traffic control. This will enable air traffic controllers handle more traffic, enhance safety and capacity and improve productivity.
Next Generation Enabled Weather. (NNEW); Majority of air delays are related to weather. The goal of NNEW is to reduce these delays by merging the many different weather observatories and sensors from the ground, those that are airborne and from space into a single national weather information system which will be updated in real time. It will provide a common weather picture and report in the national airspace system which ill translate to better decision making and air travel.
NAS Voice Switch. (NVS); There are seventeen different voice switching systems being used now. NVS aims at replacing these systems with one ground-ground and air-ground voice communication system. This is meant to bring uniformity in aviation communication.
Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B); This surveillance broadcast will use the global positioning system to provide pilots and air traffic controllers with information that will aid in the safety of aircrafts while flying and taxiing in the runways. It will be achieved by the mounting of transponders on the planes to receive signals that will help determine the aircrafts position in the sky in relation to other air traffic. These signals and other data will be relayed to pilots and air traffic controllers at the same time thus improvement in air safety.
Conclusion.In order to achieve objectives of National Air Space, there has to be increased funding and support from the government and all stake holders. This will lead to the realization of set goals within the stipulated time. The duration of time taken to merge both mid-term and long-term goals should be reduced in order to speed up the actualization of goals and maintain consistency. Achievements made so far have proved that anything is possible thus the need for people and players in this quest to have faith in proposals made towards any goal of NAS.
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