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Working paper / Transport

Modernizing the U.S. air navigation service

Author(s): SHERRY Lance

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The modern Air Navigation Service (ANS), also known as Air Traffic Control (ATC), is one of the largest networked socio-technical systems developed and operated by humankind. The ANS ensures safe and efficient flight operations 24 hours a day, 365 days a year across continents and oceans for upwards of 15 million flights per year. Since Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSP) operate under the legal framework of a public utility (or quasi-public utility) and are subject to a range of externalities, productivity improvements and modernization initiatives are not efficiently driven by market forces and require government mandates. This paper describes the ANS modernization initiatives underway in the United States. The enabling technologies, concepts-of-operations, and challenges to modernization are discussed.