Michael G. Whitaker, Washington, D.C.
October 8, 2014
NextGen Advisory Committee
I’d like to start off by acknowledging the great work that Bill Ayer has done over the last two years. As you all know, this is Bill’s last meeting as chairman. Over the course of two years with the NextGen Advisory Committee, he has helped coordinate unprecedented cooperation between the FAA and industry. He has been extremely influential in the success of the NextGen prioritization work. It wasn’t without some friction, but that was necessary to break through some of the myths and achieve results. In many ways, today’s agenda is a culmination of that work.
We had a chance to honor Bill last night for his contributions. Let me just say that I am honored to have worked with Bill and wish him every success in his future endeavors. Thank you for your service.
I would also like to welcome, in abstentia, our new NAC chairman Richard Anderson, CEO of Delta Air Lines. Richard became CEO of Delta in 2007 and has more than 25 years of experience in the airline industry, starting with Continental in 1987. He has served as CEO of Northwest Airlines and also as chairman of the Airlines for America board of directors and the IATA Board of Directors. We are delighted that he has agreed to be the next chairman of the NAC, and we look forward to working with him.
Also, welcome to our new NAC members, Brigadier General Giovanni Tuck, United States Air Force; Brad Pierce, President of NOISE and City Council member, Aurora, Colorado; and Eddie Angeles, FAA Associate Administrator for Airports.
Before I begin a discussion of today’s agenda, I’d like to talk about what’s been happening over the last 10 days or so at Chicago Center. As you all know, we are working around the clock to restore service to the Center near Chicago that was damaged by fire Sept. 26th.
We are grateful that everyone was evacuated safely from the facility and there were no fatalities. A contract employee was criminally charged in relation to this incident and was treated for self-inflicted injuries. Another employee was treated for smoke inhalation at the scene and returned to work the next day.
This was a criminal act – a deliberate act of sabotage at Chicago Center. It led to a very significant disruption to service in extremely busy airspace. But it also has resulted in heroic amounts of work, innovation and cooperation in our workforce, with the operators in that airspace, and with our contractors.
Our air traffic controllers and technical specialists have been especially amazing as they dedicated themselves to not only maintaining the flow of air traffic, but to installing an entirely new telecommunications room at ZAU. Last week, on Tuesday, just four days after the fire, FAA air traffic controllers managed more operations at Chicago O’Hare than at any other airport in the country. I could not be more proud of the people of the FAA who have been giving their all to keep traffic moving in Chicago and to restore full operations at Chicago Center as soon as possible.
I’m going to turn it over to Teri Bristol for more details.
Ed Bolton and Teri anniversaries
This meeting also marks the one year anniversary of Ed Bolton as the Associate Administrator for NextGen and the approaching anniversary of Teri Bristol as COO of ATO.
Ed has added a refreshing culture change to NextGen, moving us from focusing on delivering milestones, to delivering capabilities.
Teri will also complete one year in her position in December.
Teri’s engagement with the priorities, and the support from the entire ATO, has been key in our focus on delivering benefits.
This year marks some outstanding coordination with industry to sharpen our focus in NextGen. We’re all rowing in the same direction now. The leadership of Ed, Teri and Peggy Gilligan and John Hickey has been key in driving this work within the FAA.
We will focus much of today on the work of the last year around the four NextGen priorities – those key procedures and technologies that will have the biggest impact on improving the efficiency of the NAS.
This work has focused on four areas: surface operations, multiple runway operations; performance based navigation and DataComm.
We’ve been working closely through the NextGen Integration Working Group to identify locations and to scope the work.
Perhaps the most important thing to come out of our collaboration is that we’ve forged a plan with industry for these key NextGen priorities, reducing the risks to implementation and assuring we can deliver benefits to the traveling public.
Our efforts with the integration working group reflect our commitment to work together. We in the FAA have been focused on getting the technology, procedures, and standards out the door, particularly as we have deployed the foundational NextGen technology. Now we’re concentrating on working hand-in-hand with operators to determine where to roll out these capabilities that are available today and ready to be deployed. We want to choose the most beneficial locations and generate the benefits that are, in the end, the whole point of this effort.
It’s a lot of work. It’s not always easy. But this approach is better. It’s a good working model.
One example is that through this approach, we have been able to respond very quickly to your input on multiple runway operations.
I am particularly pleased that we have been able to increase the number of wake recategorization locations. I know how important wake recat is for carriers. I hear about it in detail at every hub I visit. We’ve got that message loud and clear.
We received this recommendation from you in June, and quickly conducted a review of the roll out schedule. Everyone worked closely within the program and with the various facilities and determined that we will be able to meet your needs and implement these improvements.
We are going to reduce separation standards at nine new airports in five cities in the next year. This will give us a total of 13 airports nationwide that have these reduced separation standards. We have already seen the benefits in Memphis and Louisville.
This year, we have implemented these reduced separation standards at Cincinnati and Atlanta.
In Atlanta, we’re already seeing great results. We implemented wake recat there on June 1, 2014. After 90 days, Delta Air Lines is reporting a 2.3 minute reduction in taxi out times and a 14 to 24 percent reduction in departure queue delays. In a hub the size of Atlanta, these are significant numbers.
On the arrival side, Delta is also benefiting from each aircraft spending two minutes less in the TRACON airspace. These efficiencies are reducing fuel usage and emissions.
Next year, we plan to add nine airports in five cities:
The two Houston airports
In New York at: JFK, Newark and LaGuardia
In Chicago at: O’Hare and Midway
The other three NextGen priorities are on track as well.
We have made significant progress with performance based procedures. As we discussed at the last NAC meeting, our Houston Metroplex site went live in May. That redesign included 61 new satellite-based procedures in the Houston area. We estimate these procedures in Houston could save airlines $9.2 million dollars in fuel each year.
Just a couple of weeks ago, on September 18th, we went live with our second large-scale Metroplex implementation, this time in North Texas. That redesign included more than 80 new satellite-based procedures in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
The lead industry partners there were American Airlines and Southwest, with additional participation from NBAA and Express Jet.
We expect to see similar benefits as we saw in Houston, such as reduced fuel consumption, reduced flight time, and reduced carbon emissions. We will report those as data becomes available.
While the priorities work has been going on, we continue to deliver on deploying the foundational technology of NextGen. Earlier this year, we asked MITRE to conduct an independent assessment of our progress on NextGen, and they briefed their report this morning at the breakfast.
The report confirms that the FAA remains on schedule in delivering on foundational NextGen technologies. The MITRE report confirms our path forward and enables us to make necessary adjustments.
NextGen remains on track, and it is our job – all of us—to work together to make sure it stays on track.
ADS-B Call to Action
As we complete the foundational work of NextGen, and as we work with the NAC to deliver on the priorities, we are also looking ahead. The most important milestone looming ahead is the 2020 ADS-B equipage mandate. To keep NextGen on track, we need to meet that mandate. Which means industry needs to be on schedule to meet that mandate.
ADS-B equipage will allow us to replace the radar-based system with a GPS-based system that is more efficient. This is one of the key components of NextGen. As you all undoubtedly know, the rule was put in place in 2010 –with a lot of help and input from industry. It was put in place with a 10-year lead time to allow equipage to occur. That lead time was there to allow the carriers to have a normal cycle of aircraft replacement and maintenance. It was there to give GA an opportunity to equip, and for the cost of equipage to come down. It was also there to allow the FAA to demonstrate our commitment to installing the ground system well before aircraft would be required to equip.
The FAA has done its part: As you are aware, this year we completed the ground installation of ADS-B nationwide. We also are well on our way to completing the computer system we will use to run ADS-B. To date, 16 en route facilities have fully modernized their automation systems. By next spring, all 20 en route centers will complete the transition. We’re also upgrading and standardizing the automation systems at more than 150 terminal facilities throughout the country.
But the clock is ticking. We’re just over five years away from the day of the mandate. Now we come to the point where we’re looking at how we are going to go operational, and that means equipage. We have only so much visibility into the plans of carriers. These plans for equipage are commercially sensitive. But these are the kinds of issues that we need to start looking at, and how we’re going to stay on track with that date.
Recently we have seen some very good trends. We have seen the price of equipage for GA come down, with multiple products on the market. Suppliers that are still developing products are announcing their schedules. We’re seeing an acceleration of the number of aircraft equipped. We want to build on these trends and reaffirm our joint commitment to the mandate.
We’re doing two things in this regard.
The first is that we are communicating clearly and unequivocally that the 2020 mandate will not change. We need to make sure that everyone is prepared to comply with the mandate. This is imperative to keep NextGen on track.
The second thing is that we’re announcing an industry Call to Action, which the FAA will host on October 28 in our offices. We are going to bring together industry leaders and associations to have a day where we look at where we are with ADS-B and where we are with equipage. We want to identify the barriers to compliance and discuss solutions.
We need to understand if suppliers will provide solutions with sufficient time to allow everyone to comply? Will repair stations be able to handle the projected volume of installations? What policy or guidance do you need from us to help you make decisions on what to buy, and when to install it?
By the end of the Call to Action, we hope to have a high-level plan to resolve the various barriers to on-time compliance. Many of the aspects of that plan will require a sustained level of commitment and follow-through. To that end, I have asked the NextGen Institute to form an Equip 2020 working group. I expect that this group will meet shortly after the Call to Action, and will continue to meet through 2019 to coordinate and guide the implementation of ADS-B across the fleet.
Leading this effort will be the Executive Director of the NextGen Institute, Major General Marke “Hoot” Gibson, retired United States Air Force. Please stand, Hoot.
The Call to Action and the Equip 2020 working group are focused on coordinating the implementation of plans and decisions which were laid down in 2010. We are not expecting that group to achieve consensus or develop recommendations for the FAA, like the NAC has done. Instead, we expect this group to address each individual barrier to help keep ADS-B implementation on track.
I look forward to seeing many of you at the Call to Action, and to obtaining your renewed commitment to the January 1, 2020 implementation date.
I know we have time on the agenda this afternoon to discuss various issues, including ADS-B, and I look forward to that discussion.
In finishing out the agenda, we also have some very good news today on how we measure the benefits of NextGen. We have started to receive actual fuel data from A4A on flights between more than 80 city pairs. As you know, we tasked the NAC with this work. And you all put forth an extensive effort to help us determine how best to measure NextGen benefits.
A significant and notable shortfall was how to collect, track and measure actual fuel burn data. A4A members have provided historical data going back two years for all flights between dozens of key city pairs. We plan to report aggregated data on our FAA harmonized metrics web site to fulfill our obligations under reauthorization.
As an update to another previous tasking, we asked for your help in providing recommendations to overcome noise challenges that hindered our ability to issue guidance for categorical exclusions. Those exclusions were part of reauthorization. This was to accelerate environmental reviews of NextGen procedures.
You gathered a group of experts and provided recommendations last September that helped us examine the impacts and provide a potential way forward.
The public comment period on this is still open – until October 20th. At the February NAC meeting we will come back and give a report out on your recommendation.
I’m going to leave it there for now. Thank you for your attention this morning. We have a very good meeting in front of us today and I look forward to the fruitful discussions that are a hallmark of this committee.
I’d like to turn it over now to the FAA’s Assistant Administrator for International Affairs, Policy and the Environment, Rich Swayze, for a few words on our upcoming reauthorization. After Rich, we’ll hear from Ed and Florian for our regular update on SESAR/NextGen collaboration.