New Air Traffic Control System At Crossroads

WASHINGTON (AP) - Officials say the planned new air traffic control system being created by the Federal Aviation Administration will be as revolutionary for civil aviation as was the advent of radar six decades ago.

But the program is coming face-to-face with other realities. It's getting harder to pry money out of Congress and the airline industry is hesitating over the cost of equipping its planes with new technology, putting the program at a crossroads.

And some experts say the U.S. could lose its lead in the manufacture of high tech aviation equipment because the FAA is moving too slowly.

The tab is expected to be as much as $22 billion for the government and another $20 billion for the airline industry through 2025.

Under the FAA's GPS-based NextGen system, officials say the traffic capacity will increase significantly. The FAA also predicts NextGen will save time, fuel and money by allowing more direct routes.