The DOT last month began a top-to-bottom audit of the FAA’s next-generation
air-to-ground communications (Nexcom) program that is closely scrutinizing costs and “key risks,” such as potential security threats. Nexcom is a critical element of the FAA’s effort to modernize the aviation communications infrastructure. It seeks to replace existing analog communications technology with digital voice and datalink equipment over the course of the next several years.
The FAA expects Nexcom to increase the number of available frequencies to meet demand through 2030 and fundamentally change the way information is exchanged between controllers and pilots. The audit by the DOT’s Office of Inspector General does not come as a particular surprise considering just how important Nexcom is to the future of commercial aviation. Honeywell, Rockwell Collins and Avidyne have been selected to develop prototype Nexcom airborne hardware, testing of which is just getting under way.