A few years ago, the aviation industry started thinking about what was to come after the initial time frame that NextGen had published for airspace modernization, which was 2025. With the industry in the midst of a paradigm shift due to the explosion of new technologies and the rapid rise of new airspace entrants, we could no longer look at transformation as we did before.
“Various organizations, committees, companies building new types of platforms, and traditional aviation players were all having independent conversations about what the future concepts for airspace should look like post-NextGen,” said Pete Dumont, ATCA President/CEO. “We have finite airspace with new platforms, such as drones, urban air taxis, and commercial space vehicles, all trying to compete for airspace with traditional commercial operations – and nobody was looking at a holistic view. What was desperately needed was someone to step up and look at the work needed to integrate these concepts together.”
Thus, the Blue Skies Initiative (BSI) was born. The Air Traffic Controllers Association (ATCA) took on the leadership role of pulling government and industry together to carefully start the planning process. It defined the mission of Blue Skies Initiative, and created a structure much like RTCA, with an Executive Committee made up of experts in the field such as RTCA President & CEO Terry McVenes which oversees Working Groups (WG) of competitors who collaborate on common goals. The BSI WG members are talented subject matter experts from across government and industry. Participants must be willing to dedicate their personal time and even go through a vetting process. The WG is chartered with developing a future-ready framework for modernizing the NAS that defines a short-, mid-, and long-term vision for aviation.
As part of the overall BSI charter, the WG reaches out to other organizations to ensure complete aviation industry engagement that also supplements and complements their work, such as RTCA’s work and the work of the FAA NextGen Advisory Committee and The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).
“DOT, FAA and NASA cannot be solely responsible for setting rules and requirements for our future airspace,” said Gene Hayman, BSI Executive Chair . “So, BSI is a call to action for the entire aviation community. We must come together as an industry and define our future airspace before it’s decided for us.”
For more information on Blue Skies, visit atca.org. The organization published an eBook in December and there is also information available on its Tech Symposium in May and its Annual Conference & Exhibition in September.