NextGen’s ‘Best-Equipped, Best-Served’ Flawed

 - October 29, 2009, 11:09 AM

Department of Transportation inspector general Calvin Scovel III told a congressional panel yesterday that a plan to jump start NextGen ATC equipage by users would represent “a significant change” in how the FAA manages traffic. According to Scovel, a proposal to give preferential treatment to airspace users who install new avionics systems would be a dramatic change from the FAA’s historic “first-come, first-served” mantra for providing ATC services. In its final report last month, the RTCA NextGen Mid-Term Implementation Task Force said that the government can encourage equipage by providing an operational incentive (better routes, reduced delays and so on), streamlining the process required to take advantage of new equipage or providing financial benefits. “While financial incentives to accelerate equipage would be welcome by stakeholders,” the task force wrote, “the failure to do all else necessary to provide operational benefits would yield no improvements in NAS performance and, hence, no return on the government’s investment.” But Scovel cautioned, “The details of such a policy would need to be developed to ensure equity among users and implementation at specific locations.”