Separate testimonies late last month before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the DOT Inspector General raised serious issues concerning the FAA’s management of its NextGen project.
Joint Planning and Development Office
The FAA last month responded to the RTCA Industry NextGen Implementation Task Force’s recommendations for the transition to NextGen. The agency had earlier invited the group–300 people recruited from all segments of the aviation industry–to propose optimum solutions to the mid-term, 2010 to 2018, transition to the full implementation of NextGen. The task force published its consensus recommendations last September.
In one of the strongest signals yet that the Obama Administration has gotten the industry message that the decades-old ATC system is sorely in need of replacement, the White House is asking Congress for a $1.14 billion budget in Fiscal Year 2011 for the FAA’s Next Generation Air Transportation System, a 31-percent increase from the FY 2010 figure.
The FAA has responded positively to a report from the RTCA NextGen Mid-Term Implementation Task Force, which the agency had requested to recommend key steps to ensure a smooth transition to the full NextGen environment by 2018.
The FAA has broken ground for a NextGen research park that will sit adjacent to the agency’s William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City, N.J. The complex will offer a central location for the FAA’s industry partners to perform research, development, testing, integration and verification of the technologies, concepts and procedures required by NextGen.
The FAA finalized the industry-wide technical standard orders (TSOs) for automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B), the backbone of NextGen. ADS-B will migrate the existing radar surveillance infrastructure from the ground to an aircraft and ground-based system. With the new standard in place, avionics manufacturers can design and build in-aircraft ADS-B equipment needed for NextGen.
The FAA last week finalized the industry-wide technical standard orders (TSOs) for automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B), the backbone of NextGen. ADS-B will migrate the existing radar surveillance infrastructure from the ground to an aircraft and ground-based system. With the new standard in place, avionics manufacturers can now design and build in-aircraft ADS-B equipment needed for NextGen.
Plans to jump-start NextGen equipage by giving preferential treatment for installation of new avionics systems will fundamentally alter the FAA’s “first-come, first-served” mantra for providing ATC services, according to Department of Transportation inspector general Calvin Scovel III.
One of the traditional buzz phrases in discussions about improving ATC has been the time-honored “system of systems” that envisions a National Airspace System in which everything meshes together smoothly. It will be some time before the U.S. realizes that vision with NextGen, according to Lockheed Martin’s Tom Dilenno, who spoke at last month’s Air Traffic Control Association Conference.
The FAA expressed enthusiasm about the RTCA’s final report of its NextGen Mid-Term Implementation Task Force released last week. The recommendations focus on five operational areas: surface, runway access, congested metropolitan airspace, cruise and National Airspace System access. They also encompass two specific NextGen capabilities: automated digital communications and integrated air traffic management.