Running head: FREE FLIGHT
Free flight is a developing air traffic control method. This new concept is being put forward to help modernize air traffic management by using technology. The concept would put the responsibility of safety and efficiency on the Pilot in Command instead of having these responsibilities on air traffic control. With the use of technology, flight plans will be able to be made and improvised during flight by the flight crew, instead of coordinating with local controllers, helping flight paths becoming more direct and efficient. The concept of Free Flight is thought to eliminate human error because of the high-level reliability on modern technology. Free flight is planned to be implemented between the next 10-30 years across the United States (Leslie, 2017).
How Free Flight Works
The air traffic management method of free flight relies heavily on technology. Unlike modern air traffic control that relies heavily on human communication, the flight crew would be responsible for detecting and avoiding issues during the flight. Communication would be sent directly from computers to the aircraft, which in turn can eliminate human error by controllers, and allow pilots to adjust as they deem necessary (Free Flight Concept, 2007). Free Flight would still utilize the Terminal Control Center, that would help aid pilots in the event of weather along with providing pertinent information to the aircraft that the computers could be unable to provide.
Free Flight puts the responsibility of aircraft separation on the flight crew. According to Free Flight (2016), the airspace would be divided between alert zones and protected zones. In the alert zones, the pilots would be alerted that traffic is in the vicinity. While in the protected zones, a minimum separation distance is implemented and if an aircraft or another object comes into the area, the crew would be immediately alerted. Even though pilots will be given strict instructions on aircraft separation, human error can still present itself, resulting in a collision or near-miss situation.
The separation concept of free flight relies heavily on system technology. The newest form of technology for this concept is ADS-B, which utilizes both ground-based systems as well as satellites to provide the most accurate position and altitude of airborne aircraft. While not all aircraft currently have this system on board, it will be implemented by 2021 (Free Flight Systems, n.d). Another technological approach to a conflict warning system is TCAS, which uses transponders and ground-based systems. TCAS can determine the risk of collision, and aid pilots in providing adequate separation as soon as possible.
There are a lot of factors that are included in the viability of the concept of the air traffic management system of free flight. While many factors of the concept seem to have air travel be more safe and efficient, there are numerous factors t...