The FAA is going to have to up its game and remove bureaucratic obstacles to progress if the airline industry is to enjoy the long-promised benefits of the NextGen air traffic management (ATM) program. This was the conclusion of Boeing Commercial Airplanes ATM vice president Neil Lanzer in today’s general session of the RAA Convention in Montreal. “NextGen has brought us hope but [so far] we are not anywhere near [achieving] a return on the investment,” he said.
Referring to reforms such as the introduction of ADS-B and RNP navigation procedures, Lanzer said that the new technology has had some benefits but the U.S. ATM system is still nowhere near achieving the three-fold increase in capacity anticipated by the Department of Transportation. “So far it just hasn’t met expectations,” he said. “We haven’t reduced separations and there have been no [significant] capacity gains.”
However, Nancy Graham, director of ICAO’s air navigation bureau, sprang to FAA’s defense. She insisted that the ideas behind NextGen are sound and predicted that it will be “an incredibly safe system and pretty damn efficient.” In her view, the FAA is struggling with similar bureaucratic impediments to those faced by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service as it tries to instigate information technology reforms. She implied that procrastination and lack of support in the U.S. Congress is partly to blame for delays in progress with NextGen.