The year 2020 has often been used a reference point for the future in media and
popular culture. Many of us reading this magazine would have grown up placing
a special meaning on the year 2020, especially those born in the late 20th century.
It feels slightly disconcerting then to be editing a magazine with 2020 in the title. The
arrival of this futuristic year brings with it the slight feeling that many once promised
technological advances are yet to occur. There have been major technological
breakthroughs and innovations such as the internet, smartphones, flat screen displays,
hybrid cars and so on, but we’re not living on the moon or using hoverboards – yet.
In aviation most technological change happens gradually. Disruptive technologies are
rare and cautiously introduced in aerospace, where risks are life or death and safety is
paramount. Nowhere is this more apparent than in air traffic control, which manages
millions of flights every day
for the aviation industry.
Without the reliable routing
air navigation service
providers and their
controllers supply, aviation
could not exist. The tools and
systems that they use must be
proven beyond doubt to be
trustworthy and dependable.
Nevertheless, the advance of technology is inexorable, as is the growth of air traffic.
There were almost 45 million flights last year, a significantly higher amount than the
predictions made by industry bodies and governments 20 years ago. Drones are just one
example. There are many other upcoming technological developments to deal with:
eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) vehicles such as urban air taxis and cargo
air vehicles, the growth in commercial space operations and the prospect of autonomous
operations and artificial intelligence.
Faced with accommodating these technological advances and the rises in air traffic,
the ATC sector has to develop and innovate in response. This 2020 issue of Air Traffic
Technology International therefore contains details of the latest products, services,
concepts and ideas to make the sector work more effectively and efficiently in 2020 and
beyond. It also contains contributions and interviews with some of the ATC industry’s
leading figures about how the sector should adopt these new tools and systems cautiously
and collaboratively to meet the expectations of airspace users safely. As we approach 2020,
plenty has changed for the better and although there are no moon colonies or
hoverboards just yet, the promise of the technologies of the future remains alluring.
Ben Sampson, editor
Senior Art Editor
Anna Davie, Louise Green
Chief Operating Officer
Chief Executive Officer
Air Traffic Technology International
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Without the dependability and
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supply, aviation could not exist
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