USA TODAY International Edition
Air- traffic technology works well, despite age
Question: Why is our airtraffic control system criticized as “outdated” or “based on 1960s technology” when huge improvements have been made over the past 20plus years, such as RNAV, NextGen, DSR, GSR, etc?
— Steve M., Atlanta
Answer: The improvements in the U. S. air- traffic control system are significant but have come at a much slower pace than some other countries. As an example, the incorporation of required navigation performance ( RNP) took decades longer than it should have.
Part of the problem is not the FAA’s fault; the federal procurement process is so cumbersome that too often equipment is outdated when it is installed.
Overall our system is very good. There is a much greater quantity of traffic in the U. S. than in most countries and we move that traffic very well.
Q: How does a pilot know to avoid other traffic in congested airspace?
— submitted via email
A: Air- traffic controllers issue instructions to keep the required separation. Additionally, most airplanes have a Traffic Collision and Avoidance System.