Natca Chief Calls for More Scrutiny of FAA’s NextGen

 - March 27, 2008, 12:12 PM

“We believe that Congress should call for an immediate, comprehensive evaluation of NextGen, before additional funds to implement it are expended,” Natca president Patrick Forrey said yesterday at the Washington, D.C. Aero Club. “Until a reappraisal is completed, the FAA should suspend all ADS-B contract activities.” While Natca said it endorses any technological advance to improve air traffic control operations, “NextGen, as presently conceived, cannot” do what was promised, he noted. While NextGen advocates point to new technology as a way to overcome the limiting factors of weather and runway capacity, “For us controllers, time is measured in distance, and one minute equals three miles of separation. So, regardless of how closely spaced aircraft are on approach, only one every minute, under ideal circumstances, can land,” Forrey countered. According to Natca, the FAA needs to focus its resources on completing the 30 projects, including ASDE-X and several controller automation systems, that form NextGen’s building blocks and other modernization initiatives vital to what Forrey dubbed “NowGen.” He believes “these projects can ease congestion and delays and confer needed safety and efficiency benefits immediately, to an ATC system under significant stress.”