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									     Avionics Technology

                               The future of air traffic control

                                       he first attempts to provide a sem-                        The primary method of controlling the
                                       blance of ATC were based on sim-                        immediate airport environment is visual
                                       ple “rules of the road” established                     observation from the control tower. Tower
                               by the European sponsored International                         controllers are responsible for the separa-
                               Convention for Air Navigation in 1919                           tion and efficient movement of aircraft
                               and were implemented at London’s                                and vehicles operating on the taxiways
                               Croydon Airport in 1921. In the United                          and runways of the airport itself, and
                               States, Archie League, who controlled air-                      aircraft in the air near the airport, gener-
                               craft using colored flags at what is today                      ally 2 to 5 nautical miles, depending on
     By Jim Sparks             Lambert-St. Louis International Airport,                        the airport procedures. Radar displays
                               is often considered the first air traffic con-                  are also available to controllers at some
                               troller. Initial air traffic regulations were                   airports. They may use a radar system
                               established in the United States by the                         including both primary surveillance and
                               passage of the Air Commerce Act of 1926.                        secondary surveillance for airborne traf-
                                  Around 1930, radio-equipped control                          fic approaching and departing. These
                               towers were established by some local                           displays include the position of various
                               authorities, and instrument flying had                          aircraft and data tags that include aircraft
                               recently begun. Within a few years several                      identification, speed, heading, altitude,
                               airlines jointly established the first airway                   and position data.
                               traffic control centers to safeguard their                         Project Capstone was an FAA undertak-
                               aircraft against midair collisions. In 1936                     ing in southeastern Alaska starting in the
                               this preliminary effort was transferred to                      late 1990s. This initiative equipped general
                               the federal government, and the first-gen-                      aviation aircraft and commercial carriers
                               eration air traffic control system was born.                    with equipment capable of sending aircraft
                               Several U.S. airlines using the Chicago,                        GPS position, speed, and heading along
                               Cleveland, and Newark airports agreed                           with normal transponder i
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