Dr. David Byers, the senior development professional for Quadrex Aviation in Melbourne, Fla., is advocating the utilization of a “virtual air traffic control tower” to provide some level of advisory services at airports which do not qualify for a staffed facility. Quite clearly there is a need for such support for OMB compels the FAA to make a rigorous cost/benefit analysis to open or retain active ATC services. A “virtual tower” would reduce the numerator calculations of the OMB test by eliminating the personnel expenses.
That’s a plus, but there’s more.
The article mentions that the Raleigh County Airport in Beckley, WV engaged in a test of the Quadrex system and that the qualitative results were most positive from private, business and military pilots. That is useful; however, the quantitative assessments at the FAA Tech Center, which are a predicate to installation as an approved component of the Air Traffic Control system, will be expensive, exhausting and demanding.
The standards will be set at a high level because, once certificated, the FAA becomes one of the named defendants in any subsequent accident at which the Quadrex computer is installed. The legal concerns will be in the background of the technical analysis.
The Tech Center has more assignments than it has capacity. Much of its inbox is filled with time critical NextGen assessments. Getting the virtual tower assessed anytime in the near future will not occur just on the basis of the system’s merits and potential benefits for the ATC system. Another hurdle is getting the FAA’s blessing for eligibility for AIP funding.
Those are potentially major blockages that could delay the actual implementation of the virtual tower at airports. History suggests that an idea will move from brilliant concept to reality much more quickly when a Senator and/or Representative becomes a major advocate.Share this article: