Air Traffic Control Communications Implications of Reconfigurable Airspace Boundaries

M. Jenkis, D. Lamiano, L. Monticone, and M. Nguyen (USA)


Air/Ground Communications, Air TrafficManagement, Reconfigurable Airspace Boundaries, Airspace Elasticity, RFI, Spectrum Management


The air traffic management (ATM) system of the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA's) National Airspace System (NAS) relies extensively on its air traffic control (ATC) communications system that provides communications between controllers and pilots and among controllers. The ATC communications system infrastructure is intimately tied to the structure of the airspace, which is designed for both safety and efficiency of flight. In the NAS today, the airspace structure is preplanned and static, and is based on the underlying premise that air traffic flows are predictable. The communications infrastructure has been preplanned to accommodate the airspace structure; and like the airspace structure, it too is static. This paper discusses implications of the current ATC communications infrastructure on new ATM concepts that require a more elastic airspace structure that can be reconfigured easily to accommodate unpredictable changes in traffic flow. It also discusses the upgrades to the ATC communications system that would be required to support a more elastic airspace structure. Additionally, an overview of the communications analysis tools required to support the study is included.

Important Links:

Go Back