Transforming Air Traffic Management
May 1, 2004
Air traffic control exemplifies the problems of governance in an age of sustained technological change. Complex problems go beyond the jurisdiction of a single country and challenge our ability to devise collaborative solutions. At the same time, delay can create serious costs for national economies. The tragic events of September 11, 2001, highlight the critical need for improved aviation security and safety. This is not a technological problem--technologies already exist that could improve tracking and facilitate ground-to-air communication. However, the use of new technologies creates difficult organizational, budgetary, and policy issues. Deploying a new air traffic control system internationally will also raise serious questions regarding sovereignty and governance. Building a political imperative for the modernization of air traffic management will be difficult, but it is the central challenge.
James A. Lewis is director of the CSIS Technology and Public Policy Program. Anne Witkowsky is senior fellow in the CSIS Homeland Security Program.