ALPA highlights safe integration of commercial air and space operations in its new white paper

Publication takes a deeper look into the operational integration of commercial space into the national airspace system and beyond.

SpaceX launches 17th commercial resupply mission for the International Space Station earlier this year.
SpaceX launches 17th commercial resupply mission for the International Space Station earlier this year.
SpaceX

WASHINGTON, D.C.— The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) published an updated white paper, Safe Integration of Commercial Space Operations into the U.S. National Airspace System and Beyond, which takes a deeper look into the operational integration of commercial space into the national airspace system (NAS) and beyond, particularly in the area of oceanic air traffic management with an eye toward achieving the same level of safety.

At “Safe Skies for All”, a one-day conference jointly hosted by ALPA and the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, ALPA president Capt. Joe DePete, highlighted some of the paper’s recommendations for transforming our airspace for the future.

“ALPA’s vision for the integration of commercial space moves from accommodation of space activities, which we have today, to better interoperability via data exchange, improved coordination, and situational awareness in the near to mid-term. With additional investment in communications, surveillance, air traffic control automation, and development of new procedures and separation standards, along with achievement of spacecraft design-assurance standards and operator and crew certification, ALPA sees a long-term future where space operators are able to file-and-fly like any other operator in the airspace, with separation standards and a harmonized safety approach.”

For both commercial aviation and space operations, future growth and success are dependent upon safe and efficient access to the same shared public resource—the national airspace system. Since commercial airline pilots have the unique advantage of being daily users of the NAS, ALPA has been a leading voice for the safe integration of space transportation operations into commercial aviation infrastructure and operations.

“ALPA and the aviation industry recognize our responsibility to share the safety lessons we’ve learned so that others don’t have to repeat them. We are dedicated to facilitating the safe integration of new and expanding users of the national airspace system. This commitment applies to all users, including unmanned aircraft systems or drones, hyper- and supersonic flight, and, of course, commercial space. By working together, the aviation and commercial space industries have an opportunity to use a data-driven, risk-predictive approach to safely integrating commercial spaceflight into the airspace,” added DePete.

Please click here to view ALPA's white paper on the subject.

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