The NextGen priorities list developed by an RTCA advisory committee was announced on Friday at the annual NextGen Institute meeting in Washington, D.C. The RTCA NextGen Advisory Committee (NAC) approved the list one day earlier, assigning “Tier 1A and 1B” priority to 11 capabilities that are considered equally important.
The RTCA NextGen Advisory Committee (NAC) has recommended a list of priorities for the Federal Aviation Administration as it rolls out the NextGen ATC modernization in the U.S. against increasing budgetary pressure.
American Airlines has spent some $400 million in the past few years to retrofit its existing fleet for the planned NextGen flight environment in the U.S. But at this stage it has not seen the operational benefits it had hoped for, according to the airline’s director of airspace modernization and advanced technologies.
The FAA’s NextGen ATC modernization program faces long-term technical risks and still uncertain acceptance by airspace users. But after a decade in development, NextGen could be stalled by a nearer-term threat: substantially reduced funding from Congress. In June, the House appropriations committee released transportation funding legislation for Fiscal Year 2014 that would reduce the FAA’s capital funding account, which supports NextGen programs, to its lowest level since 2000.
The FAA claims the NextGen Air Transportation System initiative is progressing, according to its recently issued NextGen Implementation Plan report, which projects a reduction in delays of 41 percent by the end of the mid-term implementation period in 2020.
In an effort to deliver operational improvements more quickly, the FAA has made “trade-offs” in establishing performance-based navigation (PBN) procedures that could limit their benefits in the near term, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
Airlines and the organization representing Europe’s air navigation service providers (ANSPs) agree that the continent must modernize and streamline its ATC system. But two decades into the pursuit of a smoothly functioning Single European Sky, “there has not been as much progress” as airlines need to remain strong, said Tony Tyler, director general and CEO of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
The old Terminal Instrument Procedures Working (TWG) group has been disbanded, and the new U.S Instrument Flight Procedures Panel (IFPP) is taking its place. The TWG was formed in an era when instrument approach procedures were designed around land-based navaids. Because the FAA has committed itself to developing a National Airspace System built to performance-based navigational standards (PBN), the agency believed the complexities inherent in these designs demand a more comprehensive working group.
The road to future communications, navigation and surveillance operations will not include any major technology upheavals in user requirements before 2020, according to projected roadmaps presented at ICAO’s Air Navigation Conference in Montreal recently. In fact, new technologies mentioned for each of the three regimes were usually described in terms of their potential future benefits, with no suggestion of their actual readiness for implementation.
At ICAO’s General Assembly of world aviation nations in 2010, individual member states were requested to commit to national performance based navigation (PBN) implementation plans covering their en route and terminal airspace, plus approach procedures with vertical guidance (LPV/APV) for all their instrument runway ends–as primary or back-up for precision approaches–by 2016, with 70 percent completion targeted by 2014.