Traffic in the sky

As anyone who reads this journal or follows our industry knows, we’re going to need tens of thousands of new airplanes over the next 20 years (as well as pilots and crews to operate and maintain them) to meet the demands of growing markets around the world.

But a couple of questions keep coming up when we talk about this tremendous growth: How in the world are we going to advance the existing air traffic infrastructure to handle a lot more air traffic? And, how will we be able to better enable pilots to fly the most efficient routes from takeoff to landing?

Well, we’re not standing still in these crucial areas. Boeing is a major player in air traffic management (ATM). In fact we’re a prime contractor and one of three companies working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to research and develop the Next Generation Air Traffic Management System, or NextGen - part of a 10-year agreement signed last year worth up to $1.7 billion.


Boeing is playing a leading role in transforming global air traffic management.

We’ve just posted a great Q&A interview in Boeing Frontiers with three of Boeing’s leaders in ATM - Neil Planzer, who leads BCA’s Global ATM Solutions, Greg Deiter, who leads Boeing Defense, Space & Security’s Defense and Government Services division and Gene Hayman, of Boeing Research and Technology who manages the ATM upgrade program known as Systems Engineering 2020, or SE 2020

I think the team does a great job explaining why this is an especially exciting time in terms of moving forward toward a technologically advanced air transportation system.


Boeing’s ATM leaders during a recent visit to the control tower at Paine Field in Everett. (From left, Gene Hayman, Greg Deiter, Neil Planzer). Click on the image above to go directly to the Frontiers story.

As Planzer points out, ongoing R&D is key, but we already know what direction we need to go - transitioning from today’s radar systems to state of the art technologies involving satellites for precision navigation, surveillance and global communications.

Imagine the efficiencies possible when pilots and airline operations centers have access to precise data about the location of their airplanes - with instant communication between the flight management computers on board the airplane and on the ground.

Clearly, it’s going to take some doing. But I think Boeing is uniquely qualified to get us there. Working with the FAA and other regulatory agencies worldwide and with our customers and other stakeholders, combined with our expertise at retrofitting existing airplanes and equipping new airplanes with the latest technology, this is a job we can accomplish.

And by the way, achieving this goal will not only reduce congestion and delays, it will save fuel and reduce carbon emissions, as we transition to a safer and vastly more efficient air transportation system - and manage the future traffic in the sky.

Comments (3)

Dan Thomas (Everett, WA):


As soon as I started to read this post and knowing how you attach a related song, I immediately was thinking of a different song than the one you chose. Check out this one by Owl City.

--Dan T.

Ken DeBord (Renton, WA):

The most efficient ATC in the world will be bogged down when the aircraft reach overcrowded airports. Not only airside maneuvering areas, but terminals on the landside, are at capacity or soon will be.

Norman (Long Beach, California, United States):

This is a very good thing since the air traffic management systems that we have today are old, outdated and being stressed to the max. Updating the air traffic management system is the most important of the many ways that are available to allow for more traffic in the sky and to get to places quicker and more safely.

Post a comment

We welcome your comments. However all comments are moderated and may not post immediately. Offensive or off-topic comments will not be posted. We will not treat any comments you submit as confidential information. Please do not submit comments that contain any confidential information belonging to anyone else.

By submitting a comment to Randy's Journal, you agree to our site terms and privacy policy, and to having your name displayed with your comment. All or part of your comment may be posted or cited in the blog. Your name and personal information will not be used for any other purpose, and we will not publish your e-mail address.


More posts