The future of world aviation rests on good communications and close supervision of aircraft movements. It should come as no surprise that a panel working for the International Civil Aviation Organization concluded satellites offer the best way to provide that supervision. While air transport is growing rapidly everywhere, it is beyond many developing countries to finance the massive infrastructure which smoothes aircraft movements in the United States. Satellites, which can reach remote areas and easily cross borders, offer standardization unmatched by ground-based national systems and are the obvious way to overcome barriers of cost, flexibility and coverage.
The United States and the Soviet Union have apparently resolved to move quickly on improvements. Federal Aviation Administration chief James Busey, in a speech before the ICAO, has offered free use of the U.S. Global Positioning System satellites as the foundation for a world-wide system. Mr. Busey, defusing fears this was an attempt to control system development, noted that he and his colleagues had already begun talks with the Soviets on ways to integrate their satellites into the system.
FAA and Soviet specialists are working on common electronics specifications and minimum operational standards for civil aircraft communications. Joint flight tests, using U.S. and Soviet satellites, are under way over the North Pacific, he said.