Release #07.043
August 31, 2007

Pilots and Passengers Get a Break from a Long, Hot Summer
FAA investment in space-based technologies will potentially reduce gridlock

WASHINGTON—As our nation’s airspace system grinds to a halt, thousands of airline pilots and passengers sit frustrated on airplanes. Pilots are delivering passengers in record-breaking numbers within an aging National Airspace System (NAS). Unfortunately, pilots and passengers are arriving late and unhappy.

“We warned the world back in May that this year’s summer travel would obliterate the Summer of 2000 misery index,” said Capt. John Prater, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA). “The fact is that our pilots are moving through a system that is not equipped to handle these traffic levels, weather delays, or any other minor disruption—all of which are routine. And when we land, it doesn’t get any better. Congress must focus its attention on investing in the system today, because things will only get worse tomorrow.”

Modernization efforts to the NAS begin with upgrading today’s antiquated systems. ALPA applauds the FAA for making a critical move toward advancing those efforts when the agency launched implementation of the nationwide keystone technology known as the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) system. ADS-B, a quantum leap from 1950s-era radar, will use precise signals from the Global Navigation Satellite System to pinpoint aircraft locations.

“The FAA’s announcement marks a major milestone and brings us one step closer to giving pilots the tools they need,” said Capt. Brian Townsend, chairman of ALPA’s National Airspace Systems Modernization Committee. “The future ADS-B system will provide pilots with a sense of other traffic on real-time, moving maps displayed on the flight deck, granting increased situational awareness both on the ground and in the air, which will help reduce gridlock while enhancing safety.”

ALPA representatives played a crucial role in the development and application of ADS-B and will continue to advocate for the FAA to bring these vital safety tools to pilots’ flight decks sooner than later. But the agency cannot do it alone. It will need the necessary funding from the National Treasury to keep our national resource—the airspace system—the safest and most efficient in the world.

Founded in 1931, ALPA represents more than 60,000 pilots at 41 airlines in the U.S. and Canada. Visit the ALPA website at

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ALPA CONTACTS: Pete Janhunen, Molly Martin, 703-481-4440