North American air traffic control system? Integration plans move forward

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Now, here come the Mexican airplanes
Controversial SPP moves toward North American air traffic control system

August 9, 2007
By Jerome R. Corsi
© 2007 The U.S. has built nine navigation systems for Mexico and Canada under the controversial Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America in an apparent first step toward establishing the satellite infrastructure needed to create a North American air traffic control system. The defining vision for North American air traffic control was articulated by then-Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta in a Sept. 27, 2004, statement announcing, “We must make flying throughout North America as seamless as possible if we are to truly reap the rewards of the expanding global economy.”

Wide Area Augmentation System

The “2006 Report to Leaders” posted on the SPP website proclaimed, “In order to increase navigational accuracy across the region, five Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) stations were installed in Canada and Mexico in 2005.”

WAAS is a space-based augmentation system that provides precision navigation information to aircraft equipped with Global Positioning Satellite/WAAS receivers through all phases of flight.
Working through the North American Aviation Trilateral, the U.S. has built for Mexico WAAS stations at five locations: Mexico City, San Jose del Cabo, Puerto Vallarta, Merida and Tapachula.

Additionally, the U.S., working through NATT, has built four Canadian WAAS stations, at Iqaluit, Gander, Winnipeg and Goose Bay.

WND also has learned discussions are underway to create a North American Air Traffic Control System, complete with Federal Aviation Administration issuance of WAAS certifications for Canadian and Mexican airspace. According to a government official who specializes in satellite technology applied to air traffic control systems, it would involve Canadian and Mexican foreign nationals not only hosting but operating and maintaining U.S. air navigation equipment as part of a continental Global Navigation Satellite System.

The vision would permit Mexican and Canadian air traffic controllers to operate within North American airspace as if they simply were operating from a U.S. city.

The core of the U.S. air traffic control system is the Global Positioning Satellite system that functions as an integral part of the seamless Global Navigation Satellite System envisioned by the International Civil Aviation Organization.

A new program in development, Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast, or ADSB, will eventually replace existing radar sites to incorporate WAAS navigation signals and report aircraft location to air traffic control.

The plan is to feed ADSB information on all participating aircraft to Mexican and Canadian air traffic control.

WAAS uses a network of ground reference systems – Wide-Area Reference Systems – to establish accurate vertical and horizontal identification of aircraft location to assist air traffic controllers in precisely managing air space, including the ability to space aircraft accurately in take-off and landing, as well as while en route from location to location.

‘Remove the barriers’

FAA and SPP-affiliated government officials deny any intent to integrate Mexican or Canadian airlines into the domestic structure of U.S. air travel, emphasizing instead the need to facilitate international travel between the three countries and coordinate air traffic control for U.S. airlines needing to fly into or over Mexican or Canadian airspace.

Their position is reflected in Secretary of Transportation Mary Peter’s statement at the first North American Transportation Trilateral meeting with her counterpart transportation ministers in Mexico and Canada in Tucson, Ariz., on April 27.

Peters said, “I look forward to the day when it is as easy for an airline to start new service between Tucson and Montreal or Monterrey as it is between Tucson and Austin.”

Knowledgeable government sources tell WND on background that the vision of a North American seamless airspace is also designed to permit Mexican and Canadian airlines in the future to operate from within domestic U.S. air terminals, serving locations within the U.S. on a competitive basis with U.S.-domiciled airlines.

The FAA projects continent-wide full development of an operational GPS-WAAS system by 2013.

Peters announced at the April 27 meeting that, “With globalization intensifying the pressures on all our economies, it has never been more important to connect these networks, coordinate our policies, and remove the barriers that keep large and growing volumes of goods and travelers from moving efficiently across our borders. In the United States, we see the opportunities in aviation as especially promising.”

At the NATT meeting, which went virtually unreported in the U.S. mainstream media, Peters said the 2005 air services agreement between the United States and Mexico and the Open Skies accord signed with Canada in March lift restrictions on continental travel to provide for “free and open trans-border air travel.”

Globally, the vision is to integrate a North American GPS/WAAS system with the Ground-Based Augmentation System being established by EUROCONTROL, an agency established under the auspices of the European Union to manage EU airspace.

Airservices Australian, an Australian airspace management organization, also intends to leverage the FAA investment in GBAS technology to advance what ultimately will become a world-standard satellite-based airspace navigation system.

The FAA website documents that a CAN/MEX/USA working group held its first meeting in Mérida, Mexico, in June 1995, during the Clinton administration.

The CAN/MEX/USA working group can further be traced to October 1993, when the International Civil Aviation Organization completed its Global Communications, Navigation and Surveillance/Air Traffic Management Implementation and Transition Plan.

In an FAA webpage reserved for discussing international activities, the FAA says the activities organized under the North American Aviation Trilateral reaffirm the FAA goal to establish regional cooperation for seamless air navigation in North America, consistent with the vision articulated by Mineta and SPP.