Please Welcome the Alliance for Sustainable Air Transportation

At any one time I'm usually helping set up anywhere from two to five new standards consortia and open source foundations, and the gestational stealth period can be anywhere from two to eight months.  That's because the time will vary depending on how much time it takes to work everything out among the founders and recruit the type of starter set of members that you'd like to have to give an impression of inevitability to whatever it is that the founders are trying to make happen in the wider world.  As a result, it's always a pleasure to help introduce a new organization that has just emerged onto the public stage, and particularly so when the new consortium's mission is socially relevant.

That's the case with the Alliance for Sustainable Air Transportation, whose mission will ultimately effect just about everyone that reads this blog entry.  In a nutshell, ASAT will help US airports, in cooperation with those around the world, make the move to a next generation air traffic control system that will increase safety, decrease congestion, and lower fuel consumption - three goals that certainly anyone would endorse.  You can find ASAT's Web site here, and I've pasted the full text of a press release issued last week in at the end of this blog entry.

Here are further details on what this new organization is all about.

First of all, the current members and partners of ASAT are as follows, with more to be announced on an ongoing basis in the future:

  • Federal, State, and Local Governments and Agencies: South Carolina Department of Commerce/Aeronautics Division, State of Florida
  • Private Sector: ACS International LLC,  DayJet, Destiny, Florida – The Pugliese Company, Harris Corporation, JetSuite, Selex Sistemi Integrati, Inc., SERCO, Unisys
  • Academic Institutions:  Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Mineta Transportation Institute/SJSU, New Mexico State University, University of Central Florida

ASAT will be supporting an initiative known as "NextGen," which refers to the "Next Generation Air Transportation System."   NextGen is supported by the NextGen Institute, which in turn supports something called "Vision 100." The Institute’s Web site describes that as follows:

Vision 100—Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act, Pub. L. 108-176, represents a multi-agency initiative to transform the future air transportation system. This act created the Joint Planning and Development Office as the means by which six government agencies will combine resources and talent to effect the transformation and further, Vision 100 directed that "the [Joint Planning and Development] Office shall consult with the public and ensure participation of experts from the private sector."

ASAT was formed in part to make possible just such private sector consultation.

The nut of the challenge at hand – and the opportunity – are summarized at the ASAT Web site as follows:

NextGen is a wide-ranging initiative to transform the air transportation system (airports, airspace and aircraft) by leveraging new technologies, such as satellite-based navigation, surveillance, and networking. The initiative involves meaningful collaboration among government departments and agencies as well as companies in the aerospace and related industries.

NextGen is urgently needed because America’s air transportation system is stretched to the limit. Federal government estimates suggest that the current system will reach capacity by 2025, and many regions are forecast to be at capacity by 2015. An integrated NextGen Air Transportation System will help expand the air transportation system as a sustainable economic resource and reduce energy consumption. NextGen will mean increased air travel solutions, renewed community-based economic development opportunities, a smaller carbon footprint for the industry, lower community noise impact, lower fuel consumption and dramatic cost savings.

Of course, those that regularly travel through airports like New York City’s Kennedy and La Guardia know that things are already at crisis levels in some US locations.  Currently, 80% of all US traffic is routed through only 35 airports.  The result: it’s estimated that some 740 million gallons of jet fuel were wasted in 2007 due to flight delays in the United States alone.  Unfortunately, while air traffic remains in the hands of human controllers, things can’t change very much or very quickly.

But with satellite based equipment interfacing directly with aircraft, it’s estimated that traffic levels could safely increase by two to three times from current levels while simultaneously and dramatically reducing delays.  The result would be a predicted savings of c. 12% of current fuel usage .  Unfortunately, while the technology to accomplish this goal has been available for some time, the practical aspects of gaining buy in, rolling out the system and, of course, paying for it have delayed the implementation of what everyone agrees is an important and essential upgrade.

ASAT is only one of a number of new organizations that are dealing with many of the environmental challenges that we are facing today, from reducing energy consumption and transitioning us to more sustainable energy sources to hunkering down on greenhouse gas emissions.  Progress in all of these areas will depend on standards – both metrology standards to assess whether we are gaining or losing ground, as well as determinative standards to control how a myriad of processes, products and services will be produced, transported, utilized and interoperate in order to live more responsibly in the world in the future.  If you’re interested in learning more about how standards and the environment are essential partners, you might want to browse through this issue of Standards Today.  You might also want to check out the folder of News Picks that I file on an ongoing basis under the category of Standards and Society a the News Portal section of this site.

I’m looking forward to continuing to work with ASAT in its now-public mode, as well as with the other organizations that I expect to be formed in the future on a continuing basis as the world gets more serious about addressing the environmental that surround us.  Better late than never.

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New Public-Private Partnership Aims to Increase Air Traffic Capacity, While Boosting Environmental and Economic Benefits

Co-founder Traver Gruen-Kennedy Speaks at Farnborough International Airshow

WAKEFIELD, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–A new non-profit group seeks to deliver the economic and environmental benefits of a new, improved air transportation system — the Alliance for Sustainable Air Transportation (ASAT;, by working to help accelerate implementation of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) in the United States.

The organization’s co-founder, technology visionary Traver Gruen-Kennedy of DayJet, is speaking today during the Sustainable Aviation Briefing at the Farnborough International Airshow ( in the United Kingdom, on the need for a sustainable air transportation system and ASAT’s plans to support its implementation. Other speakers at the Sustainable Aviation Briefing include executives from the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA); Airbus; Boeing Commercial Airplanes; British Airways; Cathay Pacific; International Air Transport Association (IATA); Orient Aviation Magazine; Rolls-Royce; and the Society of British Aerospace Companies (SBAC).

ASAT, based in Massachusetts in the United States, was announced by Florida’s Governor Charlie Crist at the 2008 Florida Summit on Climate Change conference (, June 26 in Miami; a press release on the announcement is available at

NextGen is a wide-ranging transformation of the entire U.S. national air transportation system to meet future demands and avoid gridlock in the sky and at the nations airports. NextGen is a complex nationwide plan that includes aircraft owned and operated by industry, airports owned and operated by local governments and airspace operated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD).

A key element of NextGen is environmental protection that contributes to sustained aviation growth, by focusing on issues of noise, air and water quality, global climate, and energy. ASAT’s strategy is to support the implementation of NextGen regionally, locally, and in stages, through prototypes that favor the greatest benefits in the shortest time.

"Air transportation is a key ingredient in global business activity. If we want to drive economic development through aviation in the United States and around the world, our success must come through taking care of the health of our planet, and we must act quickly," said Gruen-Kennedy.

"With 80 percent of U.S. air traffic concentrated at only 35 airports, and with 740 million gallons of jet fuel wasted in 2007 due to flight delays in the United States alone, we cannot afford to wait. ASAT’s work will assist the implementation of NextGen operating efficiencies and environmental benefits for the good of travelers, employees, partners, shareholders and our communities at large. It is our hope that these efforts will be a model for implementing similar partnerships in other parts of the world."

NextGen and the Need

The commercial aviation industry in the United States is in a state of crisis, brought on by increasing congestion and delays and exacerbated by a dramatic rise in the price of jet fuel and a slowing domestic economy. The U.S. air transportation system is stretched to the limit. FAA estimates suggest that the current system will reach gridlock by 2015 (

The NextGen plan was developed by the Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO), the central organization coordinating the specialized efforts of the U.S. Departments of Transportation, Defense, Homeland Security, Commerce, FAA, NASA, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The JPDO was created in 2003 by President Bush and Congress under VISION 100 Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act (P.L. 108-176).

NextGen will transform the air transportation system by leveraging new technologies, such as satellite-based navigation, surveillance, and networking, as well as use of more efficient aircraft and under-utilized airspace. ASAT will achieve its goals for NextGen through facilitating the creation of state, regional and local prototype solutions, which will generate early successes that can be built upon and developed into a replicable blueprint for nationwide implementation.

It is estimated that NextGen may accommodate two to three times the current air traffic levels by shifting from ground-based, human-centric communications, navigation and surveillance systems to satellite-based, *censored*pit-enabled air traffic management. According to the U.S. Government Accounting Office (GAO), NextGen may also reduce carbon emissions in aviation by up to 12 percent, while lowering fuel consumption.

NextGen’s potential to improve environmental performance is being demonstrated in a test program at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, where American Airlines use of NextGen-related procedures is reducing carbon dioxide emissions by levels equivalent to removing 15,000 cars from the road for a year (source: FAA,

About ASAT

The Alliance for Sustainable Air Transportation (ASAT) is a non-profit public-private partnership a broad coalition of leaders who share a vision for accelerated implementation of a sustainable air transportation system. ASAT is a diverse group of federal, state, regional and local government entities and academic institutions.

ASAT is open to all who share the vision and are willing to contribute to its success. Current members and partners include: ACS International LLC, DayJet, Destiny, Florida The Pugliese Company, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Federal Aviation Administration, Harris Corporation, JetSuite, Joint Planning and Development Office, Mineta Transportation Institute/SJSU, New Mexico State University, Selex Sistemi Integrati, Inc., SERCO, South Carolina Department of Commerce/Aeronautics Division, State of Florida, Unisys and University of Central Florida.

Our mission is to realize the early economic and environmental benefits of sustainable air transportation — for everyone in the air and on the ground — by helping to drive the transition to the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). We will accomplish this mission by educating stakeholders, defining metrics, developing a blueprint for implementation, and facilitating the development of prototypes. For more information, write to, call +1 (781) 876-8944 or visit

Comments (3)

  1. I couldn’t help but notice the lack of involvement by the airlines and organizations such as AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) and NBAA (National Business Aviation Association) , although I see a couple of air charter services in there. There are also a few names I don’t recognize.

    The airlines, AOPA and NBAA all have a lot of clout and jealously guard their turf. It’s going to be really tough to get acceptance with anything that requires changing procedures or adding equipment to aircraft.

    I am a private pilot, but haven’t flown for a few years and let my AOPA membership lapse. I don’t know what they might have said recently about this or similar initiatives.

  2. Re: it’s estimated that traffic levels could safely increase by two to three times from current levels while simultaneously and dramatically reducing delays.  The result would be a predicted savings of c. 12% of current fuel usage .

    So flights would increase to about 250%, while using about 88% of the fuel, which means aircraft would become 3x as efficient.

    If airlines could really be 3x as efficient, just by tackling admin and routing overheads etc., this would be an incredible gain for the environment and fuel security. But it does sound a bit too good to be true. Is there any hard evidence? – giafly

    • I think that the statement is a bit misleading (or could be read that way), because I believe the 12% they are alluding to is "on average, per flight" rather than "12% of all aviation fuel costs."

      The increase in traffic would be accomplished  because planes could be much closer together (because the new technology would not require as much margin for error) and because rerouting in real time could be accomplished to achieve more direct flights, and through various other ways in which time and distance could be shortened. 

      And on the congestion front, being able to have planes closer together during all types of weather on take off and approach would not only allow existing delays to be eliminated, but to schedule even more flights.

      Or at least, as always, that’s the plan.

        –  Andy

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