The FAA’s NextGen ATC modernization program could be stalled by substantially reduced funding. In June, the House appropriations committee released transportation funding legislation for Fiscal Year 2014 that would reduce the FAA’s capital funding account, which supports NextGen programs, to its lowest level since 2000.
At a House aviation subcommittee hearing yesterday, it was revealed that the $2.1 billion allocated for the FAA’s facilities and equipment account is 22 percent below the agency’s request and less than Congress provided in the current fiscal year.
“Our understanding is that at those funding levels, the agency would be required to constrain its efforts greatly in regard to NextGen and, in fact, would have to devote all of its attention and much of its funding permitted by Congress to simply sustaining the current system,” said Department of Transportation inspector general Calvin Scovel.
The funding issue distracted from Scovel’s latest report on NextGen’s progress, which found that the FAA is falling short of expectations for the program due to “several underlying programmatic and organizational weaknesses.” Even the FAA’s near-term priority of developing more efficient performance-based navigation procedures is limited by the lengthy process of developing the procedures and the lack of controller policies for authorizing them.