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New Program Could Reshape Air Travel in the US

The National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), along with other agencies unveiled a new program that could help reshape air travel in the United States.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the FAA, the US is facing a crisis when it comes to air travel. Ninety-eight percent of air passengers use just 460 airports; 70 percent of them use just 30.

But America has over 5,000 airports that can handle smaller planes, and many are not used to capacity.

The Small Aircraft Transportation System, or SATS, developed by NASA and the FAA is intended to change that. The demonstration in Danville, Virginia, shows promise. The SATS program has four new technologies that enable pilots to land in rural or smaller airports without the assistance of radar or an air traffic controller, by using only computers.

Federal Aviation Administrator Marion Blakely expects SATS will prove to be even more useful in the future. Marion Blakely of the Federal Aviation Administrator states that, "We recognize that the existing air traffic control system is not going to be scalable to meet the kind of traffic we're talking about in the future beyond a certain point."

Additionally, the SATS program would allow small planes to fly in almost any weather day or night. The purpose of it all is to create a point-to-point system of small airports. Many Americans fly to a large airport and drive to their destination, whether it is a suburb or another town, and the SATS program hopes to eliminate that.

But the new system can only work if these small plane flights come at a price Americans can afford. The system becomes available in 10-20 years.