Tuesday, January 09, 2007

ESCAT: New ATC emergency response plan

The Aero-News Network (ANN) reported today on a new ATC emergency response plan that is due to go into effect next week. The article says that the Departments of Defense, Transportation and Homeland Security have collaborated on the new plan which would put air traffic control into the hands of the military, should there be a major terrorist attack in the United States.

Says ANN:
Naturally, it has its own acronym -- ESCAT, for Emergency Security Control of Air Traffic. ESCAT pretty much eliminates any civilian role in determining response to a covered emergency, or even in deciding that there is an emergency.

On the other hand, it does acknowledge the economic component of such an attack, and offers options other than shutting down the skies over the entire nation, as happened after 9/11.

"The commerce of the U.S. could not stand another complete shut-down of the nation’s air traffic," said Ray Lewis, coordinator of the DoD Policy Board on Federal Aviation, to Government Security News. "Aviation represents over nine percent of the nation’s GNP."

Civilian observers are split. Some decry the lack of public input in drafting the plan, which military leaders say contains sensitive information. Some point to the track record of the Feds in administering so-called temporary flight restrictions, with little regard to economic damage. A big concern is a lack of a definition for victory, or any provision for termination of temporary powers.

But others say ESCATS allows regional isolation of a response, and poses lower risks to the economy than the old cold-war-era system. That system, which dates from 1980, was called SCATANA, for Security Control Air Traffic And Navigational Aids.
There. Don't you feel safe now??

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