Estimating the monetizable safety benefits of prototype air traffic control technologies
October 22, 2012
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) utilizes a formal investment analysis process to support the development, procurement and deployment of new air traffic control technologies. It is often unclear how to estimate the impacts of a new technology on aviation safety, both in terms of the probability that incidents and accidents could be prevented and in terms of the potential financial savings associated with reduced aircraft damage and personal injuries. With this in mind, the focus of this paper is twofold: (1) demonstrating the application of a method for generating probabilistic estimates of safety benefits for a future air traffic control technology, and (2) monetizing and extrapolating safety impacts from historical data to provide a quantitative estimate of savings over the lifetime of a new technology. The technologies explored in this analysis involve electronic flight data, enhanced surveillance and decision support tools for the air traffic control tower environment. From this initial analysis, the estimated total monetizable safety benefit of deploying all of these capabilities in a new system with an expected 2015-2035 lifetime across a set of major airports in the US ranges from $155 million to $2.1 billion. Implications of key data assumptions driving the lower and upper-bound estimates are discussed.