Special Committee 31 was formed by members of the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA) to predict the future needs of the United States' air traffic control system. This report recommended a common air traffic control system be developed that would serve the needs of both military and civilian aircraft. They released a final report of their recommendations on May 12, 1948; this report made several requirements of future air traffic control systems (as listed in ):
1. The new system must permit aircraft to be flown safely. 2. It must improve the flow of air traffic. 3. Any airborne equipment must be both simple and lightweight. 4. Any new system must impose a minimum burden on the pilot or ground personnel. 5. The installed equipment must require a minimum of funding from taxpayers, airlines, or private pilots.
To meet these requirements the report recommended installation of airport surveillance radar and installation of VHF omnidirectional range (VOR)/distance measuring equipment (DME) on aircraft. In addition the report made several other recommendations such as installing transponders to aircraft to provide altitude and identification information to ground-based radar and to install precision approach radar to improve the capability of aircraft to land in poor weather conditions.
In 1948 the Air Navigation Development Board (ANDB) was formed to oversee the implementation of the ATC system described in SC-31. There were immediate problems such as budgetary restraints (from the ongoing war) and a concurrent effort by the military to pursue an incompatible system (Tactical Air Navigation; TACAN). In general though, the SC-31 was instrumental in laying the groundwork for the next-generation air traffic system.