The FAA’s NextGen air traffic control modernization program will require a consensus among all aviation segments to succeed, NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen said yesterday at a House aviation subcommittee hearing on the progress of NextGen initiatives. Bolen was invited to appear before the subcommittee to represent RTCA, an organization charged with providing consensus-based recommendations to the FAA for NextGen. He is a former RTCA chair and currently serves as its vice chair.
While the general aviation community is beginning “to see clear benefits from the transition to a satellite-based system with the establishment of performance based navigation,” some concerns need to be addressed, Bolen said. These include “a clear cost-benefit case that firmly establishes system requirements, [offers incentives for] early adoption and provides accountability through the establishment of a comprehensive timeline and budget.” In addition, he called for development of a future navigation plan that includes a “transition strategy,” rather than a “light-switch approach,” for NextGen.
Bolen also warned the lawmakers about the risks to the National Airspace System posed by sequestration. “Concerns over the prospect of sequestration have created an added level of uncertainty for system users,” he said. “Potential cuts in FAA funding overall, and NextGen funding in particular, would have a severe impact on the NextGen implementation process.”