FAA On NextGen: Steady as She Goes
The FAA’s NextGen Air Transportation System initiative is progressing, according to the agency’s recently issued NextGen implementation plan report. While the report focuses on improvements to airspace and navigation capabilities, the implementation plan, and especially appendix A, provides a detailed summary of technologies already implemented or planned as part of NextGen, a useful guide for those wanting to learn about ADS-B and other systems.
Operators can already participate in NextGen by equipping with appropriate avionics. For example, required navigation performance (RNP) approaches with curved path radius-to-fix legs are already in place at airports such as Denver, Seattle and others. (Authorization is required to fly these approaches.) Some airlines equipped with ACSS ADS-B OUT and IN systems are already conducting operations such as in-trail procedures using ACSS’s SafeRoute software solutions.
The FAA’s ADS-B ground station network has reached about 500 stations of the 700 planned and is slated for completion early next year, in plenty of time for the Jan. 1, 2020 ADS-B OUT equipment mandate. While the NextGen plan raises the possibility of FAA assistance in paying for required equipment, waiting might be counterproductive, as so many aircraft need equipping that avionics shops might have trouble keeping up.