The New Model for Air Traffic Control

At The End of The Day

Contrail in the setting sun

I find it hard to see what pleasure there will be in making timetables for airships, with all the blue ethereal sky to run in, no gradients or station slacks to take account of, where will the need for skilful arrangement come in?

W J Scott, The Railway Magazine, 1909

The way forward should now be clear. We need to recognise that there is no future in interactive graphic controller tools that depend upon the human mind for processing power rather than strategic guidance. Nothing is now missing from today’s understanding or technologies to prevent us from building a world-wide Air Traffic Control network that fulfils the vision of automated control that has existed for over 60 years. We do not need another feasibility study.

The New Model transports us into a new arena where almost anything is possible. Over many years, in the interests of safety, pilots have been subject to ever increasing scrutiny by on-board recording equipment and ground-based analysis programs. Pilot training and regular post-qualification checks have ensured and enforced conformance to the highest levels of best practice in aviation.

The controller’s environment will soon be monitored and measured in the same way. Aircraft operators and passengers will benefit commercially from provably equitable treatment and continuously improving efficiency in resource management. The environment will benefit from the better management of fossil fuel usage. Controllers will benefit from tools that in their very concept place them at the key point in the airspace management and strategic decision making loop.

Although controllers at Chicago Center, the nation’s busiest, are still controlling traffic with 1960s technology, they still consider themselves to be the best in the world. The work is intense and vital. All controller training is rigorous with a failure rate of above 70 per cent and new graduates take up to two and a half years to become full-fledged controllers. A new “high-tech” radar system is on the horizon in which computers will be utilised to a high degree and which will allow controllers to become more of a system monitor. The present active process is very much like ‘a big video game’ in the sky.

Doug Hartman, 1992, Chicago O’Hare USA, Chronicle of Aviation, JL International Publishing

Everyone who is committed to improving safety and efficiency for the world’s aviation industry should be interested in The New Model for Air Traffic Control.

David Parkinson MA (Oxon) MBCS CEng CITP

The Author

David Parkinson is a Natural Science graduate of Oxford University, a Member of the British Computer Society, a Chartered Engineer and a Chartered Information Technology Professional. From 1974 he worked on avionic and navigation systems with Hawker Siddeley Aviation. Between 1979 and 1982 He was responsible for the successful technical development of the fully computerised Oceanic Area Control Centre Flight Data Processing System (OACC FDPS I) at Prestwick. In 1986, in The Netherlands, he was responsible for the integration and delivery to the customer of the Rotterdam Harbour Vessel Traffic Management System. In 1997 he wrote the NATS Business Requirement for a system to replace NAS, the UK’s main Flight Data Processing computer. From 1998 to 2000 he was the UK's lead technical analyst for the Eurocontrol European Flight Data Processing (eFDP) project. He has worked on numerous other aviation and ATC related projects around the world. David Parkinson is also a private pilot with 543 flying hours.

David Parkinson is available for consultancy work in connection with The New Model for Air Traffic Control.

Contact Details


Although no support is offered for the demonstrator reasonable endeavours will be made to reply to anyone who has any difficulty in getting it to run. David Parkinson will also welcome emails from anyone wishing to open up a dialogue on the New Model Concept. If there is sufficient interest a discussion forum for the New Model may be started on this website.

You can already read through some opinions on the Professional Pilots Rumour Network - PPRuNe:

Automation in ATC


Air Traffic Controllers - A Loss of Skills?

The downloadable version of the demonstrator has been configured to run only two scenarios. If anyone has a serious interest in exploring further they may email the author for details of how to obtain a version with no software restrictions. The full version allows airspaces, routes and flights to be adapted and offers a small number ofadditional CLI commands.

Copyright and Disclaimer

All material on this site (other than acknowledged quotations) is the copyright of the author. The information may be accessed and copied provided the source (The New Model Website 2005-2016) is acknowledged. No responsibility can be accepted for any errors or omissions, or for any consequential loss, and no support is offered for any software or documents that may be made available. This site has been tested with Mozilla Firefox Version 48.0.2, Microsoft Internet Explorer Version 8 and checked using the W3C XHTML Markup and CSS Validation Services. Trademarks and proprietary names are acknowledged.

Copyright © David Parkinson 2005-2016

This site last updated on Thursday 1st September 2016