Poole poses interesting Cost/Benefit Question on implementation of Oceanic ADS-B—what is your Answer?

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ARTICLE: Group Questions FAA’s Commitment to ADS-B Start-up


The group, mentioned in the article’s headline, is the Reason Foundation and the source of this thoughtful criticism is Robert Poole, the Searle Freedom Trust Transportation Fellow and Director of Transportation Policy there. He is a well-known expert on all matters to do with air traffic control in the US and worldwide. His comments about implementation of ADS-B in the oceanic environment are part of his commentary in his newsletter.

Bob has a particular talent to quantify the decisions inherent in the management of ATC. Here he puts a number on the Oceanic environment—

“Only about 250 controllers (out of about 15,000) work oceanic airspace, and oceanic’s capital and operating cost account for a bit over one percent of FAA’s budget. International flights in FAA-controlled oceanic airspace are only 8.3% of total flights handled.” – http://reason.org/news/show/air-traffic-control-newsletter-111#sthash.GvjXr8j4.dpuf

Poole also is also able to put a number on the user benefits available in this sphere of ATC:

“The potential near-term benefits to flights in oceanic airspace from space-based ADS-B dwarf those from ADS-B in domestic airspace. Since there is no radar coverage of oceanic airspace, ATC separation over that 70 percent of the earth’s surface is procedural, meaning huge [air traffic] buffer zones both laterally and track wise.”


”A study commissioned by Aireon found that the revenue ton-miles generated by U.S. airlines operating those flights account for 42% of U.S. airline revenue ton-miles. And international air traffic is growing at a much faster rate than domestic traffic.” http://reason.org/news/show/air-traffic-control-newsletter-111#sthash.GvjXr8j4.dpuf

That juxtaposition of FAA costs (8.3%) versus a user benefit (42% of US operations) creates a calculus to which Poole offers a qualitative answer- the FAA should advance the implementation of oceanic ADS-B coverage and further implies that a contract with Aireon would be wise.

Converting these two scales (FAA costs and user benefits) to a single decisional element is beyond our competence; so it would be interesting to hear from users and the FAA.

QUESTION: how do you calculate the cost/benefit analysis posed by the Poole conundrum?

Please submit your comment (hopefully quantitative, acceptable if qualitative with some support) below.

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