Feb. 22, 2019

Business aviation got a voice over the safe integration of commercial space transportation when Heidi Williams, NBAA director of air traffic services and infrastructure, spoke at a recent conference held by the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, focusing on the optimization of the National Airspace System (NAS).

“All segments of the aviation industry are using a finite resource – that is, the National Airspace System,” said Williams. “It’s critical that NBAA and its members actively engage new industry segments to ensure safe integration with existing flight operations, while encouraging innovation and new technology.”

The two-day conference covered a wide range of topics, from new hardware and innovative technology to microgravity research and investing in space initiatives. Williams’ panel, moderated by former NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver, and consisting of representatives from Space Florida and SpaceX, considered challenges and solutions for airspace integration in the next decade, including collaborative working groups with industry and FAA representatives.

Williams highlighted the importance of having the capability to share real-time status information with all users of the NAS, as well as the need for improved data sharing capability and greater visibility into launch and reentry schedules for all NAS users.

Williams specifically recommended ongoing working groups for space operators but also a working group with representatives from all NAS users to help safely manage the NAS as space operations continue to develop and pointed to automation as another area critical to safe integration and successful evolution of commercial space transportation, especially for air traffic controllers and other traffic managers.