Air Transport Association president and CEO James May suggested last month that if the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) is fast-tracked like the Interstate Highway System was a half century ago, many of the promised benefits could be fully operational within five years.
Air Traffic Organization
After many months of apparent silence, there is action on the NextGen front. But the program is progressing in a way that is different from most previous FAA initiatives. On January 30, the agency released its NextGen Implementation Plan, covering the “mid term” from 2012 to 2018. The FAA stated the plan had two purposes.
Although the dismal economy cast a pall over this year’s Women in Aviation conference–the association’s 20th–there were plenty of networking opportunities available to attendees. As it has in the past, the conference brought its members–who hail from all sectors of aviation (commercial, corporate, private and military)–together to share their passion for the industry they work and play in.
In the ongoing effort to morph the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) into a “NowGen,” equipage by users keeps cropping up as one of the main stumbling blocks to implementing many NextGen benefits in the next three to five years.
Representatives of the U.S. aerospace industry, academia and federal government agencies urged the Aerospace States Association (ASA) last week to pursue its “Call to Action” for the nation to focus on U.S. aerospace competitiveness by encouraging science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) education.
In a rare show of unanimity, the Air Transport Association has joined with general aviation and others in lobbying Congress for a $4 billion stimulus package that could jumpstart NextGen and provide many of its benefits during President Barack Obama’s first term.
Federal and local officials broke ground early last month for a new Air Traffic Control System Command Center colocated with the FAA’s Potomac Tracon southwest of Dulles International Airport (IAD).
One of the first steps in developing the technology to automate the National Airspace System (NAS) is to coordinate and manage the data that is necessary for the technology to work properly. The system-wide information management (Swim) platform will allow all of the NextGen systems to “speak” to one another, as well as to other systems within other government agencies and industry partners, according to the FAA.
The focus of the NextGen Air Transportation System has largely been on the development of satellite-based navigation systems, trajectory-based operations and the various technologies that will form the underlying structure of the nation’s future ATC system. But NextGen’s success is not dependent upon new procedures and inventions.
In Daytona Beach, just 60 miles northeast of the Orange County Convention Center here in Orlando, the NextGen testbed facility at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is playing an important role in advancing air traffic control modernization. It’s a place where the politics of who will pay for ATC modernization can be placed to the side while researchers figure out how to make the various components of NextGen work together.