ATCA Tech Symposium: Navigating a Whole New World for the National Air Space

ATCA Tech Symposium

Last week, aviation industry professionals gathered virtually for the 2021 ATCA Tech Symposium to discuss the latest innovations powering the future of the National Airspace System (NAS). Key topics included sustainability in aviation, digital transformation throughout the aviation ecosystem, and how to navigate the introduction of new entrants into the airspace. 

In case you weren’t able to attend, Connected Aviation Today captured some of the key insights shared during the event. Read on to hear more about important updates in the world of air traffic control and management: 

Updates from the FAA on Safety, Diversity, and Sustainability 

ATCA President and CEO Pete Dumont caught up with A. Bradley Mims, FAA Deputy administrator, as part of ATCA’s Fireside Chat series that has taken place throughout the pandemic in an effort to keep the aviation industry aware of important updates. In the conversation, Mims shed light on some of the FAA’s top priorities at the moment, including the continued implementation of COVID-19 safety precautions, championing diversity and inclusion efforts, and addressing climate change. 

“DOT is part of the National Climate Taskforce, and as part of that effort, the FAA will work to put in place approaches to combat the climate crisis,” remarked Mims. He specifically pointed to the Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) initiative, which the FAA is heavily involved with. 

The entire discussion can be viewed on-demand here

Considerations for an Increasingly Digitized Air Traffic Management System 

Air Traffic Management (ATM) systems continue to evolve, with a focus on optimizing efficiency and proactive planning and incorporating unmanned operations in the NAS. To achieve this objective, these systems are increasingly performance-based, collaborative, and automated and, in turn, rely heavily on human-machine integration. Several aviation experts from across the industry spoke about the digital transformation currently underway in ATM during the ATCA Tech Symposium. 

Experts from Collins Aerospace, Thales, the FAA, NASA, and Verizon all offered their thoughts on this new, data-laden NAS and how technologies need to adapt for the future. LeAnn Ridgeway, vice president and general manager for Information Management Services at Collins Aerospace, spoke about the importance of system resiliency and the value of predictive technologies like sensors during the chat.  

“We have to do everything we can to lean forward with sensors and predictive analytics as well as on the hardware and the networks,” stated Ridgeway. 

Listen to the whole conversation on-demand here

Meteorology’s Role in the New NAS 

With new airspace entrants flying lower in the NAS (e.g. UAS, advanced air mobility (AAM)/urban air mobility (UAM) operations), meteorology intel plays an even more important role in the success of those operations given their increased vulnerability to unique weather patterns. Organizations in charge of those entrants will require different types of weather data and delivery methods to operate efficiently. 

Ralph Stoffler, Senior Solutions Architect with Raytheon Technologies, moderated the panel and framed the core problem of the discussion as such: “As we go down the path of having drones that fly by themselves, vehicles that drive by themselves, and there’s no longer an operator actually making the weather decision…there’s growing concern that even our dense [weather] network may not have all the capabilities that it needs.”  

Panelists from, the FAA, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Quantitative Scientific Solutions, The MITRE Corp., and Purdue University all examined these shifting weather information requirements and how to best support new operations in the NAS today and beyond.  

Watch the full discussion on-demand here