It’s clear that the final release of the FAA’s Authorization Act has given a new fillip to the agency’s NextGen implementation activity. The 2012 Plan, released in March, has a much more upbeat flavor than its 2011 predecessor, which essentially looked backwards at accomplishments in 2010, when most activities were still in their early stages. Back then, the potential future benefits of NextGen were just that–potential.
Next Generation Air Transportation System
Although the FAA has begun hiring and training more than 12,000 air traffic controllers to offset the large numbers of impending retirees, a disturbing number of new hires fail to complete their training, according to a January report from the DOT Office of the Inspector General (OIG).
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.
On Tuesday, President Obama nominated acting FAA Administrator Michael Huerta to lead the agency for a full five-year term. He was tapped as the acting chief in early December, after now-former FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt resigned in the wake of a drunk-driving arrest in Northern Virginia.
The FAA’s $550 million system-wide information management (Swim) program to fashion a unified information management system from the various flight data, weather and advisory systems used in the National Airspace System calls to mind a hub-and-spoke computer network exchanging digital signals with the big iron in the sky.
NextGen’s Performance Based Navigation (PBN) is at the heart of new airspace designs for Northern California. The new routes will improve the flow of air traffic into and out of San Francisco International, San Jose, Sacramento and Oakland.
An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) could soon be coming to civil airspace near you, and the FAA wants to know what you think. The safety considerations of mixing piloted aircraft in NextGen airspace with those flown by people on the ground or even totally by computer are serious concerns for most aviators.
The annual ATC Global conference and exhibition, held earlier this month in Amsterdam, attempted to bring into sharper focus the vision of a Single European Sky (SES).
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.
With Congressional differences resolved, the FAA Reauthorization Bill has been signed by the President and is now a formal government act. A done deal, right? Well, perhaps not totally done. Those who read the October report of the FAA-sponsored Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) on implementation strategies for ADS-B in were certainly surprised to see that the bill called for in to be mandated in 2020, at the same time as ADS-B out.