Air transportation is entering a period of crisis. For many reasons, traffic is growing much faster than population and the system is struggling to cope with the demands placed upon it. Signs of heavy weather are here already: delays, congested ground access routes to airports, growing problems of locating suitable sites for new airports, and the high cost of constructing new facilities. Increasing noise and pollution must be dealt with, increasing use of air freight shipments adds its quota of complications, and the enormously increasing fleet of general aviation aircraft (outnumbering scheduled airliners sixty to one by 1980) tops it off. Permeating the whole picture is the present governmental austerity policy. Means must be found to attract more private capital and the users must assume a greater share of the costs.
In 1967 a Transportation Workshop was organized to look at this whole problem. Wisely, the organizers refused to confine their attention to any one aspect pf it, for what can be solved by bigger and faster planes can be undone by slower access routes, a shortage of traffic controllers, or long lines at ticket counters. Improvements must be made from all directions at once. To mount this systems approach, the Workshop established six panels to look at socioeconomic trends, air vehicle technology, air traffic control, airports and terminals, collection and distribution of passengers, and government policies. Each panel made use of a small number of participants from industry, the universities, and government. At the end all reports were aired and coordinated; this book is the result/ The picture it paints is not all gloom; beyond the obstacles the reader feels the excitement of new ideas—ways to load passengers far “upstream,” so that they board the plane without ever having set foot in an airport, ways to park planes and service them that will save time for all concerned, special services for the much traveled corridors, special fares for the long-weekend jaunts that will be part of our increased leisure time. Design changes and evolutionary development of V/STOL aircraft are covered, as well as those of conventional planes. Although Air Transportation 1975 and Beyond does not attempt to provide answers for all the problems, still it must stand as both a landmark and a beacon for the serious student of our future in the air.