Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Coming Revolution in Air Transportation

“It will cost $50,000 and be based upon GPS technology compared to $2 million for the current ILF system,” was how Bob Wearley, president of the Indiana SATS Consortium explained to me the new Small Aircraft Transportation System (SATS) that was unveiled this month in Virginia. Indiana is one of six such consortiums formed around the country by NASA, DOT, FAA and NCAM. Wearley went onto explain to me, “Today the air traffic controllers can handle about 3 planes/hour in low visibility, bad weather conditions. With this new system an airport will be able to handle over 10/hour and they won’t even need a control tower. It will all be automatic.”

The Indiana SATS has let other SATS work on developing the technology. Indiana has concentrated upon studying the economic impact of this revolutionary technology. The group’s economist Morton Marcus explained the impact that SATS could have on a community, “It will change the way that communities live. It used to be that if you weren’t on the river, then on the railroads and now on the interstates, you didn’t really exist as a community. Implementing SATS will have a similar impact in the future as those three transportation modes have had in the past.
Marcus has done a study of the impact of this new technology for every county in the USA. His study for Steuben County, IN (population 33.722) is an increase in output of $4.7 million; an increase in earnings of $2.9 million; and an increase in employment of 88 jobs. To get your county’s estimated impact of this new technology, email them at

When you combine this new air traffic system with the new generation of Very Light Jets, new air taxi companies (Pogo & Day-Jet) and the scheduling power and flexibility of the internet you can quickly see that we are on the verge of a paradigm shift in air transportation in the USA. No longer will we fly only out of 150 airports in a hub and spoke system of transportation. Rather, we will fly directly point to point, fully utilizing the 5,000+ local airports which are within 20 miles of 98% of our population.

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