Viewing NAS Evolution from the Perspective of Required Changes to Aircraft Avionics
MITRE CORP MCLEAN VA MCLEAN
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It is widely agreed that there is a need to modernize the National Airspace System NAS to improve capacity and efficiency over the next 10 20 years. Many different parties FAA, JPDO, PARC, RTCA etc. have proposed strategies and timelines for achieving this modernization. The authors recognize that there are differing expectations associated with needed operational improvements specified in these plans and believe that there is value in determining a harmonized modernization solution that incorporates the desires of each of the parties, while minimizing the amount of modifications required to airborne and ground equipment. In the past, the FAA has generally moved forward with modernization on a program-by-program basis. In general, most of the technological improvements have been ground based and the requirements for aircraft equipage have not been onerous. However, as NAS modernization continues, most future enhancements require not just new ground equipment, but improved avionics as well. With the aircraft becoming a much more significant part of NAS modernization, an asynchronous approach to issuing mandates or imposing operational restrictions may not be acceptable to the user community. The first part of this paper presents the avionics needs that are based on the various proposed operational improvement strategies. The second part of this paper makes the case that the current way of scheduling operational improvements on an independent program-by-program basis may not be cost effective. Programs may have to be synchronized so that logical packages of avionics modifications are implemented, thus minimizing the number of avionics package changes to the aircraft.