February 27, 2014

Statement of Michael G. Whitaker, Deputy Administrator

Before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation on NextGen Priorities Roundtable


Good morning, Chairman LoBiondo, Ranking member Larsen and members of the Subcommittee.  Thank you for convening this listening session to talk about NextGen and how we are working together with the NAC to deliver benefits to users.

One of my first initiatives after joining the FAA last summer as Chief NextGen Officer was to recommend a structured engagement with the NAC to ensure that our work is aligned with industry priorities.

A complex, long-term undertaking such as NextGen requires a constant dialogue with airspace users to ensure we are on track and delivering benefits. The NextGen Advisory Committee is one of our most effective resources in understanding the priorities of our stakeholders.  It represents a good cross section of airlines, trade associations, labor, airports, manufacturers, technical experts and our European counterparts.

The request to the NAC was sent July 12th, and by September 20th, the committee provided us detailed feedback on stakeholder priorities. It was thoughtful, excellent work, and it did two things: it validated that the industry values all the program components of NextGen, and it gave a clear prioritization of the benefits that NextGen brings.  

We thoroughly reviewed these recommendations with the NAC Subcommittee and we agreed that we need to concentrate on bringing NextGen benefits in key three areas: Performance Based Navigation; Surface Data Sharing; and Multiple Runway Operations. These three areas encompass the top priorities identified by the NAC and provide the greatest opportunity to deliver benefits in the short term without requiring additional equipage.

We briefed our preliminary findings in these three areas to the full NAC last week, and the NAC agrees that focus in these areas will address the top priorities as identified.  Our next step is to sit down again with the NAC Subcommittee in the coming weeks and develop actionable plans around this work.

We will develop a series of concrete initiatives as a result of these priorities – with targets and milestones – and that will be done with input and active participation of industry and our employees. Continued collaboration with both industry and our labor partners will remain a vital part of our approach.

That is a brief summary of our dialogue to date. I am happy to go into more detail and look forward to a fuller discussion today.

Thank you very much.

###