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A significant contribution to the nation's transportation system can be made by S.A.T.S.

Small Aircraft Transportation System

The Small Aircraft Transportation System (SATS) is a partnership among various organizations including NASA, the FAA, US aviation industry, state and local aviation officials, and universities. The system partners intend to relieve the nation's current problems of highway gridlock and airport delays. At equivalent highway system costs, SATS will reduce transportation times to more communities by half in ten years and by two-thirds in twenty-five years.

Since the dawn of aviation, more than a century ago, the skies above us have been part of the national transportation infrastructure, functioning much like a three-dimensional freeway. Viewed in this light, airports should be seen as the on and off-ramps that enable us to enter and leave that highway in the sky. Ever since World War I there has been a bipartisan national consensus -- lasting through 16 presidents of both parties -- that general aviation facilities such as Watsonville Airport are an integral and critical part of America's transportation system. The broad public benefit they offer in terms of promoting commerce, assisting law enforcement and the military and being there for medical emergencies and natural disasters is almost universally accepted.

Because of these benefits it has been federal policy to encourage the development and improvement of general aviation airports. That's why the United States government paid for the construction of Watsonville Municipal Airport more than 60 years ago and has repeatedly contributed to its improvement and expansion. Furthermore, Watsonville Airport has become even more valuable to the community through an accident of history. It is now the only general aviation facility serving Santa Cruz County, a metropolitan area of more than a quarter million people and growing. It is, in fact, an irreplaceable transportation resource whose value will only grow in the years to come.

The Small Aircraft Transportation System (SATS) project is an effort to utilize the nation's 5400+ small airports, such as Watsonville Airport, to improve mobility in suburban and rural areas. The goal of SATS is to allow access to air transportation to a greater number of communities, provide a safe travel alternative to the current air and ground transportation, and reduce flight delays. Implementation of SATS concepts will relieve some of the capacity problems at the nation's major airports.

SATS can expand the air transportation system by including small, under-utilized airports throughout the country through rapid integration of advanced technologies in next-generation small aircraft. This involves reducing the accident rate of small aircraft, utilizing the nation's under-used airspace at non-hub airports, and increasing the capacity for efficient operations at hub airports. The major components of SATS are "smart" airports, information age cockpits, cyberspace training, and reliable, quiet propulsion.

For more information on the Small Aircraft Transportation System point your browser to the NASA site complete with facts and figures.

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Watsonville Pilots Association, a Chapter of the California Pilots Association
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Mail to: P.O. Box 2074, Freedom, CA 95019-2074
Last modified: 02/12/2008
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