NextGen is such a vast project, with so many interdependencies–where even if System A is complete and ready to go, it needs Systems B and C before it can be placed into service, and they now won’t be ready for another year or two–that predicting completion dates is a risky business. And predicting the final costs of uncompleted items could be even chancier.
System Wide Information Management
At the FAA, some say, program management has traditionally been an oxymoron. Several past and current programs attest to that assessment, one of them being NextGen’s En Route Advanced Modernization (Eram) system, which faces significant delays and cost overruns. Delivery of that system’s upgrade could now slip from 2010 to 2016, and its costs go from $2.15 billion to $2.65 billion.
The FAA and a group of European air navigation service providers signed a joint statement of purpose to work toward a “future interoperable aviation system that is operationally driven and technology enhanced.” Europe and the U.S. are both undertaking ATC modernization programs: Sesar (Single European Sky ATM Research) in Europe and NextGen in the U.S. Under the agreement, the parties will coordinate on areas such as systems implementation, program management and transitioning to these new systems.
The FAA’s ambitious ATC modernization effort known as the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) faces an unsettled 2012 and beyond after a number of setbacks in 2011.
“Pressing challenges remain” in the FAA’s progression to the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), says the U.S. Department of Transportation inspector general. In testimony October 5 before the House aviation subcommittee, DOT IG Calvin L. Scovel III cited the FAA’s Metroplex initiative.
The FAA’s March 2011 NextGen implementation plan is certainly a finely drawn view of what we should expect to see by 2018. Replete with charts, graphs, attractive photography and explanatory text, the document makes for exciting reading.
When Congress in 2003 signed off on the Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act–better known as Vision 100–it officially set in motion the Next Generation Air Transportation System (Ngats) plan, which by 2025 would transform the legacy 20th Century communications, navigation and surveillance domains into an operating environment employing the advanced technologies of the future.
A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee illustrates the FAA’s challenge in defining NextGen, which would transform 20th Century communications, navigation and surveillance into the advanced technology environment of 2025 and beyond.
If NextGen were an upcoming movie, Swim–for system-wide information management (Swim)–would get top billing for its leading role, and would certainly pick up the Best Supporting Actor award as well. That would only be fair, since Swim will provide the glue that will hold all NextGen’s myriad components together, according to speakers at a recent FAA/Air Traffic Control Association New Technologies Symposium in Atlantic City.
With a view to guaranteeing interoperability between the FAA’s NextGen air traffic management system (ATM) and the European Union’s Sesar (Single European Sky ATM Research), the FAA and the European Commission (EC) launched talks last month in Brussels aimed at drafting a memorandum of cooperation (MOC) in civil aviation research and development.